5 Most Common Types of Freight

February 7, 2020

Written By: Joseph McDevitt


How well do you know your freight? There’s more than one way to package and ship a product and for professionals new to the transportation industry and high-level executives looking to dive deeper into business operations, these shipping modes may seem endlessly confusing. However, there are a few core methods for shipping freight that will hopefully simplify your understanding of how a package gets from Point A to Point B (and sometimes Point C). Learning the different modes of transportation can help to provide cost savings.

Here’s a quick overview of the most popular types of freight and modes of shipping:

Less Than Truckload (LTL)


Less than truckload or less than load (LTL) is one of the most widely used methods of shipping. It takes an economical approach in transporting smaller items that can range in weight from 100 to 20,000 pounds. In this mode, deliverables are shipped with other LTL freight to save valuable time and money, so shipments can come into contact with several trucks and transportation hubs.

Volume LTL



Volume LTL shares all of the characteristics, language and accessorials as LTL. However, Volume LTL quotes should be compared to standard LTL rates when a shipment consists of more than 6 standard pallets (48”x40”), more than 6,000 pounds or occupies more than 12 feet of a trailer. Once the shipment exceeds the above specifications, selected carriers may not quote the shipment as standard LTL, but rather as Volume LTL. This is especially important when a shipment weighing less than 6 pounds per cubic foot occupies more than 750 cubic feet of a trailer as shipping via standard LTL can result in a Cubic Capacity penalty, which may greatly increase freight charges.



This method utilizes all available space on a truck to carry a shipment from one shipper to one consignee and typically houses freight from 5,000 to 45,000 pounds. Truckload works well for packages that require more space and special conditions. It’s also a viable option for speeding up delivery times because it does not require transferring loads onto other trailers.



Intermodal freight is the use of containers – mostly ISO containers – to move loads through multiple methods of transportation (rail, ship, etc.) to their destinations. Because shipments themselves are encased, this mode doesn’t require direct handling. It can be more cost-effective to reserve intermodal containers, which are easily transferred from one vehicle to another. If utilizing freight with this method, you can also reduce your environmental footprint.



Expedited freight is the ideal choice for transporting time-sensitive shipments, as this mode makes no stops until it reaches its destination. Because its load is prioritized, it often plans for delivery between one and five days. This method is used most by supply chains because they frequently work with critical shipments.

If you control a supply chain or help manage your company’s outbound shipments, knowing the basics of these five shipment types will aid in optimizing deliveries to save time and money. If you need more help with your logistics operation, consider partnering with a dedicated logistics solutions provider. To aid in your search and make the best decision, utilize the free checklist: Is Your 3PL Checking All the Boxes?

View Checklist

Are you interested in logistics management services? Contact Translogistics today.

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Categories: Carriers, TLIUniversity

About Our Blog

For the latest insights, tips and commentary surrounding the logistics industry, look no further.  Shippers will find thoughts from the award-winning team at Translogistics covering everything related to your transportation processes and plans.  If you have a question we are readily available at insidesales@tli.email 


Scott Joseph McDevitt II, MBA, CTB