You want to move your freight quickly and efficiently, and at a cost that makes sense! With time playing an important part, how long does freight shipping take?
Freight Shipping Transit Time
In freight shipping, transit time refers to how long it will take for a shipment to be delivered from the point of pickup to its final destination.
Depending on the the distance between the two points and the shipping method used, the amount of time can vary greatly. Therefor it’s a good idea to get an estimate from a preferred logistics company before booking a shipment.
Less-than-truckloa (LTL) shipping is an excellent option for shippers whose loads are less than a full truckload but too big for parcel post. But how long will it take for your shipment to arrive?
Shipping times you can expect by transit mode
- Full Truckload (TL or FTL) — With the exception of expedited shipments, full truckload is normally the fastest and most cost-effective way to ship by road. Without having to transfer the freight, the truck travels directly to the load’s destination.
- Less-than-truckload (LTL) — A common alternative and cost-effective method of moving smaller shipments. Because different shipments are aggregated into a single load, the freight must periodically stop for loading and unloading. This leads to increased freight transit times and can take slightly longer than FTL. To help determine what mode may work best for you, try this LTL transit time calculator to estimate shipping time for your freight.
- Intermodal Shipping, or rail shipments — As infrastructure improves, freight transit time by rail becomes more reliable. When averaged out, shipping times by rail is comparable to over-the-road shipping, plus it’s less prone to problems common to road-based delivery.
Delivery options for time-sensitive shipments
When standard transit time isn’t fast enough, or your freight needs to be delivered on a specific day or at a specific time, time-critical solutions can provide your best options. Keep in mind that faster freight delivery is usually associated with higher fees:
- Expedited Ground – the fastest ground shipping. With this option the freight never stops moving and is delivered as quickly as possible.
- Time Definite Service – ensures your freight is delivered by a certain day or time.
- Domestic Air – this solution offers the fastest shipping and includes multiple options to expedite your freight: next flight out, second day, deferred and charter. Most of these options are faster than ground, making air the ideal choice for critical shipments that need to reach their destination quickly.
LTL Shipping Times
Because of the nature of LTL shipping, times can vary widely depending on the carrier, the number of stops required and preferred routes. Here’s a more in-depth look at the major factors:
- Required Route: Logistically, shipments to less populated areas may take longer. With fewer trucks in remote areas, your shipment may have to wait for a full truckload before it continues on its route. As a rough example, freight being shipped from the coast to remote midwest points may take between 7 and 10 business days.
- Total Distance: When shipping freight over ground, the overall distance is the largest factor affecting shipping times. Drivers and trucks are limited in the number of miles they can travel each day. Speed limits, traffic laws and personal time behind the wheel all have bearing on the time a shipment will take. as well as regulations governing the time an individual driver can be behind the wheel each day. Typically, intrastate moves take 1-2 business days to arrive, regional shipments may take 2-4 business days, and cross-country shipments may take 4-6 business days.
- Operator Availability: As we’ve seen in the last few years, the number of operators has been less than what the industry could make use of. Due a shortage of qualified drivers and the recent conditions imposed by the pandemic, shipping times have risen sharply.
- Number of transfers: While full truckload (FTL) shipments generally take the shortest possible distance from point A to point B, LTL shipments may make several stops and transfers along the way. Your shipment is likely to first head to a regional terminal, where it will be taken off the first truck and sorted onto another truck headed towards its final destination. Depending on the carrier’s routes, this may happen more than once. Sometimes, shipments are even transferred between carriers, especially on cross-country trips. The more stops and transfers your load makes, the longer it will take to get to its destination.
- Weather and unexpected delays: Bad weather, poor road conditions, traffic and mechanical breakdowns can all cause unexpected delays in ground freight shipments. These delays can be difficult to make up, because drivers are still subject to the same traffic laws and regulations—chances are, they were already going as fast as possible for their route.
How to Reduce LTL Shipping Times
Because of the factors that influence freight shipping, LTL is usually best for shipments that don’t depend on hard delivery timelines. Still, there are ways to speed up your shipments and reduce your LTL shipping times:
- Choose the right carrier to begin with. As with any service-based business, different carriers can quote dramatically different delivery estimates. Quotes will depend on how much coverage they have for the given area, plus how many transfers will need to be made to get your shipment to its destination. You may find it’s possible to get a better quote from a regional carrier if you’re shipping intrastate or regionally. And they may provide better coverage for the same route. Of course, when freight shipping times are critical, it’s always best practice to shop around.
- Consider partnering with a 3PL company. Third-party logistics companies can be the perfect choice if you have ore complex LTL shipping needs. For example, a fully capable 3PL company will employ the latest software to help determine optimal delivery times and control costs. By using contacts throughout their preferred carriers network, they effectively coordinate shipments that can require transfers from one regional carrier to another.
- Ask about freight delivery guarantees. For an extra fee, some carriers will offer guaranteed or expedited delivery. If your freight delivery times are crucial, it might be worth it to find a carrier who offers this service.
- Help mitigate damage with proper packaging. Carefully organize and pack your shipment for transit before it gets on a truck, and make sure your shipments properly fit loadable and stackable pallets. Doing so will help ensure your products have a smooth journey to their destination.
Understanding LTL shipping times will help you make the right choice for your ground shipment. A little research can help you reduce LTL shipping times and get your load where it needs to go on time.
Sea Freight Transit Times
When it comes to shipping by sea, there’s a wide range in shipping times due to the sheer number of ways to ship, plus the endless combinations of destinations.
Overall, there are about 107,000 various UN Codes for Trade and Transport Locations (UN/LOCODE) spread across 249 listed countries and territories.
Therefor the time it takes to ship freight from port to port by sea will be greatly affected by the geographic distance between ports.
Let Brimich Help You Get the Best Freight Delivery Times
Brimich Logistics is a team of professionals always available to learn the specifics of your business, and help you choose the best shipping method for your freight. Contact Brimich today to get end-to-end visibility for every step of your freight’s journey along the way.