The Best Practices to Consider when Loading LTL and FTL to Avoid Damages, retail chargebacks, freight claims, damage claims and rejected loads


This is another best practice to keep in mind while you’re doing LTL or FTL. We all know that LTL is less than truckload and FTL is full truck load, the full truckload it’s always point A to point B, you load the truck to the fullest and then close it, lock it, and seal it. The loading process should be done carefully with air pillows and load bars/ cargo bars. 

If it makes sense to strap, apply the strap, this is all pretty standard for FTL.  After you lock it and then seal it, take the picture of the seal with the conditions of the load before closing the door and upload them to LoadProof. Whoever has any question, you can immediately show them the condition of the product when it left your facility, so you can prove you did your job right. In the LTL scenario you’re loading in the last-in, first-out sequence. 

You are loading in a reverse top sequence so if you are making 10 stops in a town the last stop goes first that means it’s all the way to the deep end of the trailer and then the next one. The first one is kept at the front, so what happens is the driver goes to the first stop, drops off the first set of pallets and then goes to the second stop and drops off the second. 

They’re going to maximize this cube and they’re going to load it as tightly as they can to reduce the number of trips they need to do. While doing that you have to realize that there is way too much handling that’s happening to all these LTL pallets. So it’s important to recognize the fact that too much handling happening, so if you are applying some kind of a shrink wrapping the it needs to be pretty tight and high quality compared shrink wrapping for a FTL because too much of handling is happening and also depending on the weight the gauge of the shrink wrapping, the plastic sheet that you’re using, the thickness of the sheet should be able to handle the weight of the product that you’re transporting that’s very important. 

So if you’re transferring a really heavy product then you have to shrink-wrap it with a 100 gauge plus sheet because that’s the one that can handle the most weight and if it’s a less weight I have the product then you can go with the 65 or 75 gauge thickness so that’s very important to keep in mind if it’s LTL. It’s a lot more handling so you’ve to recognize and probably pack it and load it appropriately with whatever straps or whatever packing technique you might use. 

Recognize the fact that LTLs require more handling, sometimes the truck driver may have to unload it in the second stop or third stop and he has to move some pallets to get the pallet out. However efficiently they do it I’ve seen many times when I have been to these DC’s and they either dropped it off or they got some pallets loaded onto their truck. During this time they usually park it in a corner of the DC campus and they’ll be sorting things, and adjusting things, and covering things. 

Sometimes these drivers don’t even have access to the dock I mean in the FTL scenario they cannot even see what is loaded so they just go pull it to the dock door and then everybody loads the pallet into the container by the shipper they ship they load everything and then they closed the door and they take pictures of the driver doesn’t even have visibility to it all he has to do is drive and go to the destination and then drop off. But in the LTL scenario they make multiple stops and then they deliver. Sometimes after the delivery they stop in the corner of a campus within the yard area and then they adjust things.

They take pictures and they make sure for the rest of the distance wherever they need to go everything is held up pretty well, nothing is going to fall off and nothing is going to shake and get scratches and things like that. That’s something very important to keep in mind that if you are shipping LTL you’ve got to be a lot more careful and a lot more packing is needed because a lot more handling happens and it’s vulnerable to damages. Whereas in FTL it’s point A to point B, nobody’s touching in the middle unless your trailer gets stolen and that happens too. We’ve heard some crazy stories where there was this trailer full of car batteries that was shipped and somehow it just disappeared and then later they found the trailer with half the batteries missing. 

So that happens as well so I know in a normal scenario that’s an exception obviously, so in a normal scenario that won’t happen so that’s something to keep in mind if it’s LTL. Recognize the fact that it needs more handling so even more shrink-wrapping  needs to be applied. Also take into account the weight of the product that they’re shipping and make sure to apply the shrink-wrapping, and also make sure that the right gauge of the shrink-wrapping material is applied. Add any comments in the comments section below and let us know if there is anything else that we can do for you and thank you for your time.

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Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. So far, Smart Gladiator Wearables have been used to ship, receive, and scan more than 50 million boxes. Users love them for the lightweight, easy-to-use soft overlay keyboard and video chatting ability, data collection ability etc. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 17 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit the company at Also follow him at

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