Expedited LTL shipping: What it is and when to use it

Image of trucks lined up in a parking lot

What is Expedited LTL Shipping?

Expedited shipping refers to transporting freight faster than standard shipping times for an additional fee. While standard shipping times vary between carriers, most LTL shipments are quoted with estimated transit times based on distance, which shipping lanes are used, and the availability of trucks moving between a shipment’s origin and destination locations. Because of the nature of LTL shipping, which involves shipments being grouped together on a single trailer and changing trucks at various transit hubs on their way to their final destinations, transit times are difficult to estimate accurately. The system of shipping makes LTL cost-effective but not as punctual as parcel or full truckload shipping.


How Does Expedited LTL Shipping Work?

If you need your cargo to arrive by a particular date, expedited shipping may be your best option to avoid the uncertainty of estimated transit times. Carriers will prioritize your shipment above the standard LTL shipping. Rather than following the traditional hub and spoke model of most LTL shipments, expedited freight is transported directly from pickup to delivery, rarely stopping along the way. Real-time updates are available on most expedited shipments, allowing shippers to track their items along the route.


When Should You Use Expedited LTL Shipping?

 - When shipping component products that are to be used in the assembly of a finished product. For instance, a shipment of watch components must be sent to a factory that assembles watches. If the shipment of watch components is delayed, production on the finished watches may need to halt until the necessary parts arrive, creating reverberating delays in production.

-When there is an urgent need for spare parts in a manufacturing industry. 

- When shipping to a business with specific delivery window requirements where missing the delivery window could result in chargebacks. Investing in expedited shipping can help avoid these fines.

- When employing a “lean” supply chain model that limits excess inventory costs but requires shipments to flow smoothly to avoid gaps in the supply chain.

-When supplying equipment or supplies to a medical facility during an emergency.

- Whenever you need express delivery.

- When shipping high-value items. Expedited shipping means shipments are handled less frequently and by fewer drivers, meaning less opportunity for items to be damaged. Also, a more direct continuous route from origin to destination means shipments are more secure from theft or loss.


Standard LTL is never recommended for shipments with deadlines because standard LTL has too many moving pieces to be reliable for specific dates. While more expensive than standard LTL shipping, expedited LTL shipping still provides much of the same cost-effectiveness of LTL, combined with additional speed and security. Ask the freight pros at Koho about which carriers offer expedited shipping for your next shipment.

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