Domestic Freight Shipping 101

by | Oct 29, 2020 | 3PL, Less Than Truckload, Transportation Logistics

Over the last several years, the freight industry has seen steady and impressive growth. Freight tonnage in the U.S. is poised to grow a whopping 35% by 2027.


Domestic Freight Shipping, Defined

Goods transported in large bulk shipments across the United States (on trucks via land, i.e., ground transportation) is known as domestic freight shipping. Global freight shipments would include the added element of sea or air transportation and involve special tariff and customs paperwork.


The Domestic Freight Shipment

For a shipment to qualify as freight, the following must apply:

  • Dimensions greater than 30″ x 30″ x 30″, or
  • Weight over 150 lbs.
  • Smaller, individual shipments are most suitable for parcel

During domestic freight shipping involving trucks, goods are loaded either onto pallets or directly onto truck floors. The pallets’ benefits include less damage and theft and ease in loading and unloading via forklift or dock. Pallets can be stacked singly as long as the height is no higher than 48 inches, after which double stacking becomes necessary.

Warehouses and other storage facilities typically have elevated docks for loading and unloading that correspond with most truck beds’ height. Other loading equipment can be used when an elevated dock isn’t available. And when a location doesn’t provide equipment, a truck, including liftgate service, can be booked for a fee.

Freight shipments that are floor-loaded need humans for unloading, rather than machinery.

Freight Shipping Methods

The three main freight shipping methods include partial truckload (PTL), less-than-truckload (LTL), and full truckload (FTL):

  • Partial truckload (PTL) typically contains 6 to 12 pallets, making it an ideal option for shippers in-between LTL and FTL. Once loaded, the shipment typically remains on the same truck for the duration.
  • Less than truckload (LTL) freight shipments are extremely common and transport 1 to 6 pallets via several different trucks from origin to destination.
  • Full truckload (FTL) shipments generally move 24 to 26 pallets directly from the starting location­ – such as a manufacturer – to, for example, a fulfillment center destination.


Freight Shipment Preparation

Accurate, secure freight shipping depends on several factors:

  • Pallet size and material: Plastic or wooden pallets, weighing a minimum of 20 pounds and a maximum of 70 pounds, tend to be higher quality; the right pallet can support a load and have dimensions big enough to prevent damage caused by overhang
  • Alternates to pallets: Crates, containers, and even corrugated boxes can work, but they must also be capable of supporting a package’s weight
  • Labeling: Although not highly recommended by many top carriers, when reusing alternate containers, old labels – particularly barcodes – must be removed before shipment to avoid wrong deliveries, and the boxes must be carefully inspected for damage
  • Labeling, part two: New labels attached on every side of the pallet should include the shipper’s address and phone number

Packaging components known as dunnage can be used on container sides to keep items from shifting and protect edges, followed by reinforced tape to seal seams and openings.

Once a freight shipment is good to go, reading the freight carrier’s specific instructions can lead to a smooth pickup experience.


How Much will a Freight Shipment Cost?


In a nutshell, the greater the distance between pickup and destination, and the greater the weight and size, the more costly a freight shipment will be. Any special handling requirements, e.g., refrigeration, will generate additional charges. Additional insurance and delivery to locations with high security can also add to the total shipment cost. And, freight classification matters. The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) provides a uniform pricing structure, numbered 50 to 500, and includes liability, density, ease of handling, and ability to be stowed.


How Amware Can Help

As a full-service 3PL, Amware can reach over 80% of the United States within a day’s drive from its headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Our custom TMS, Amrate, offers freight shippers the ability to generate freight quotes from thousands of carriers, saving time and guaranteeing the best rate for your freight.


Amrate 7.0 is Now Available!

Amrate 7.0 moves the Amrate TMS to a whole other level.

What’s new in Amrate 7.0? In addition to all the great features of its predecessor, Amrate 7.0 now offers: 

  • The most aggressive pricing we’ve ever been able to offer on LTL and FTL rates
  • Lightning Fast rate returns
  • Fully customizable dashboard 
  • Fully customizable reporting
  • Integration with most database-driven ERP, WMS, and Inventory Management Systems.


About Brad Mullins

About Brad Mullins

Brad Mullins is the Chief Operating Officer at Amware and is responsible for ensuring the smooth and efficient operation of all Amware's business practices. His effort and expertise in business management and transportation logistics, combined with a focus on positive customer experience, have had a direct and positive impact on Amware's clients, agents, partners, and vendors.