Understanding Less Than Truckload Tracking: What is LTL Freight Tracking?

Dive into the nuances of Less Than Truckload (LTL) freight tracking with this detailed guide designed for logistics managers and businesses. The post clarifies the differences between LTL and FTL shipping, emphasizes the significance of accurate LTL tracking info, and discusses the impact of advanced tracking technologies on the efficiency of freight operations. Learn how to use LTL tracking numbers and LTL trucking tracking systems to gain real-time updates and ensure the security and timely delivery of your shipments. Whether you're new to freight logistics or looking to refine existing processes, this guide provides the insights you need to optimize your LTL tracking capabilities.


In today's fast-paced logistics environment, tracking less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments is more critical than ever, particularly for high-value and time-sensitive deliveries. Efficient freight tracking systems not only enhance your operational transparency and freight shipping process but also significantly bolster supply chain reliability. This blog post delves into how to ship LTL freight, freight tracking, and the importance of both.

Understanding Freight Types

What's Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping?

LTL shipping is a logistics solution where multiple shippers consolidate their shipments to share space in a single truck. This method is perfect for shipments that are too large for standard parcel carriers but not sufficient to fill an entire truckload. Known for its cost efficiency and scalability, LTL shipping allows businesses the flexibility to adjust their shipping strategies based on volume and frequency. FedEx Freight, for example, offers comprehensive LTL services, including speedy delivery options and pallet-level tracking.

By optimizing trailer space and reducing wasted capacity, LTL not only lowers costs but also enhances sustainability in logistics operations. Shippers benefit from decreased shipping rates as costs are shared among multiple parties, making it a preferred choice for freight shipments that don’t require the space of a full truck.

Tractor trailer driving through mountainous region

What is Full Truckload (FTL) Shipping?

FTL shipping is used when the freight adequately fills the entire trailer or when a shipper chooses a dedicated truck for their goods, regardless of whether the trailer is fully loaded. This method is ideal for larger shipments or when cargo needs swift and direct delivery.

FTL typically involves fewer handling processes since the shipment remains in the same truck from origin to destination, reducing the risk of damage and accelerating transit times. It's particularly effective for high-value freight shipments, sensitive goods, or when tight delivery schedules are in play.

Comparing Costs and Benefits

Choosing between LTL and FTL shipping hinges on several factors including budget, shipment size, delivery urgency, and the fragility of goods. LTL is generally more economical since LTL shipments are smaller, so it’s a great option for businesses aiming to cut freight costs while maintaining regular shipment schedules. Providers like FedEx Freight offer cost-effective LTL shipping solutions with shared costs among multiple parties. This method is highly beneficial for small to medium-sized businesses or those needing flexible shipping options.

A worker uses a jack and forklift to move the pieces of a shipment.

Conversely, FTL, while often more expensive, provides faster delivery times and reduced handling of goods. This is crucial for businesses dealing with perishable items, valuable goods, or urgent freight needs. Additionally, FTL minimizes the likelihood of freight damage during transit due to fewer loadings and unloadings, offering an added layer of security for sensitive shipments.

Ultimately, the choice between FTL and LTL freight should align with the specific needs of the shipment and the business objectives, balancing cost, speed, and cargo safety. By thoroughly assessing their shipment volume and frequency, businesses can effectively select the most suitable shipping method to optimize their supply chain operations, ensuring both cost-efficiency and timely deliveries.

What's the Difference between Freight and Cargo?

The terms "freight" and "cargo" are often used interchangeably but have nuances in their applications. Traditionally, "freight" refers to goods transported by terrestrial means such as trucking and rail. It is commonly associated with large quantities of goods shipped via less than truckload (LTL) or full truckload (FTL) methods. This type of shipment often involves detailed freight bills, shipping labels, and often requires careful handling to ensure items reach their final destination without damage.

On the other hand, "cargo" is a broader term that includes goods transported across all modes, including maritime and air transport. This can encompass everything from international shipments to small, high-value packages handled by global logistics providers. Cargo often involves more complex logistics, including the use of containers with scannable barcode stickers or shipment's pro numbers to keep track of the various items being moved.

An image of a loading dock and shipping container on a truck being unloaded.

The Role of Freight Services

Freight services encompass a variety of activities designed to ensure the efficient movement of goods across distances. This can include less than truckload tracking, managing freight shipping processes, and coordinating with nationwide LTL carriers. FedEx Freight provides comprehensive LTL services, including pallet-level tracking and visibility for shipments.

Freight carriers, freight forwarders, and logistics providers work together to streamline these processes, reduce transportation costs, and manage the documentation required for both domestic and international shipments.

What is a Freight Forwarder?

A freight forwarder is an essential player in the logistics industry, acting as an intermediary between shippers and the various transportation services involved in moving cargo.

These specialists manage the complexities of transporting goods, ensuring that everything from pickup numbers to tracking information is meticulously handled. They provide critical services such as booking cargo space, negotiating freight charges, consolidating smaller loads into larger shipments, and tracking the cargo from origin to its final destination.

Freight forwarders also handle legalities and paperwork involved in international trade, ensuring that all freight bills, shipping notes, and other required documents like the bill of lading (BOL) are correctly processed.

Shrink-wrapped pallets ready to be shipped ltl.

This is crucial for maintaining current status updates and providing customers with accurate tracking results and expected delivery times. Their expertise helps minimize delays and additional fees that can accrue from logistical challenges or regulatory compliance issues.

By using sophisticated tracking systems, freight forwarders provide clients with real-time updates about their shipments, which can include everything from progressive numbers marking different stages of transport, trade times, and even unexpected delays. Their role is indispensable in managing the complexities of modern freight and cargo transportation, ensuring that businesses can rely on efficient and effective shipping solutions regardless of the scale or scope of their shipping needs.

Navigating Freight Documentation

Complete a Bill of Lading (BOL)

A Bill of Lading (BOL) is an essential document in the freight shipping process, acting as a legally binding agreement between a freight carrier and shipper. It details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods shipped. This document is crucial not just as a receipt but also as a vital component in the logistics provider's system for tracking shipments.

Completing a bill of lading accurately is fundamental to ensuring that all parties have clear, consistent information. It includes a unique shipment's pro number that allows all involved parties, including the logistics provider and freight carrier, to track the cargo efficiently.

Additionally, the bill of lading may contain special instructions or notes, which can include handling instructions, a scannable barcode sticker, or specific delivery details, helping to manage expectations and clarify the shipping process.

Image of a pallet of freight waiting to be loaded onto a truck, indicating customer's desire to ship ltl freight.

Tracking Technologies and Methods

How to Track a LTL Shipment

Tracking a shipment is straightforward if you have the right information at hand. By entering the tracking number, BOL number, or pro number into the carrier's online tracking system, customers can access real-time data on their shipment's location and progress.

For instance, simply entering these details into a search bar on the carrier's website or through a designated tracking portal can yield immediate updates. The system typically provides detailed tracking results, including the shipment's current status, estimated delivery date, and any transit actions.

Tools and Services to Track Your LTL Shipment

Modern logistics operations use advanced tools and services to facilitate efficient less than truckload (LTL) tracking. These include GPS devices attached to shipments, providing continuous location updates directly to a logistics provider’s dashboard.

Moreover, services often include features like alerts for changes in the shipment’s progress or updates when the freight reaches its final destination. These tools are especially critical for managing high-value or time-sensitive freight, where understanding each stage of the shipping process can significantly impact business operations. FedEx Freight offers advanced tools and services for tracking LTL shipments, including real-time updates and alerts.

Animation of an online tracking solution for ltl freight.

Online Tracking Solutions

Online LTL and FTL Freight Shipping Tracking

The evolution of technology has significantly enhanced the ability to track freight shipments online. Shippers can now monitor their LTL or full truckload (FTL) shipments with ease, thanks to online platforms that integrate real-time tracking information. These platforms often allow users to view detailed maps of their shipment’s journey, access historical data, and even set up notifications for key milestones along the route. FedEx Freight offers comprehensive online tracking solutions for both LTL and FTL shipments.

Do All Freight Carriers Offer Online Tracking?

While most nationwide LTL carriers and freight carriers have embraced online tracking technologies, there are still exceptions. If a carrier does not offer online tracking, it is vital to establish a reliable communication line with the carrier’s account manager or customer service team.

They can provide manual updates and insights into the shipping process, using tools like paper bills of lading, which contain all necessary shipping details and tracking numbers. In situations where digital tracking is unavailable, these traditional methods ensure that shippers can still manage their shipments effectively. FedEx Freight, for example, offers reliable online tracking solutions for LTL shipments.

Enhancing Efficiency in Tracking

Eliminate LTL Tracking Inefficiencies

Inefficiencies in LTL tracking often stem from outdated processes or inadequate integration of technology, leading to gaps in shipment visibility and potential delays. To combat this, businesses are encouraged to adopt comprehensive logistics software that supports real-time data sharing across all touchpoints of the supply chain.

Semi-truck on the highway at sunset indicating speedy less than truckload tracking.

Ensuring that every freight bill, paper bill, and digital record is accurate and promptly updated allows stakeholders to respond quickly to any changes or discrepancies in the shipment’s journey. Implementing such systems helps streamline operations, reduces the likelihood of errors, and enhances the overall efficiency of LTL freight tracking. Moreover, when shippers, carriers, and logistics providers can access consistent and accurate tracking information, the entire transportation process becomes more transparent and manageable. FedEx Freight offers efficient tracking solutions to eliminate LTL tracking inefficiencies.

Practical Tips for Shippers

How Do I Track an LTL Shipment?

To effectively track an LTL shipment, start by confirming that the carrier picks up the shipment on the scheduled pickup date. Ensure that every shipment includes a scannable barcode sticker and a progressive number that can be easily entered into the carrier’s tracking system.

Shippers should regularly check the tracking status by entering the pro number into the carrier's online platform. For those looking to simplify the process, simply enter the tracking details into the search bar provided on the tracking page.

Additionally, it’s beneficial to keep close communication with the account manager assigned by the nationwide LTL carrier or freight carrier. This ensures that any discrepancies or delays can be promptly addressed, and any extra fees or changes in trade time can be managed effectively.

To optimize the loading process, ensure that the load is organized in a way that allows for easy access and tracking. This means placing items in the trailer according to the order of delivery, ensuring that items for early stops are more accessible. Utilize shipping notes and shipping labels to provide clear instructions and details about the contents and handling requirements, which aids carriers during transport and unloading.

Animation of a GPS tracking device coordinating LTL freight shipments.


Efficient tracking of LTL freight is crucial in today’s fast-paced logistics environment, where businesses depend on the timely and accurate delivery of goods. By investing in advanced tracking systems and adhering to best practices in freight documentation and communication, companies can drastically reduce inefficiencies and improve their operational effectiveness. FedEx Freight provides advanced tracking solutions for LTL shipments, ensuring comprehensive visibility and control.

Whether shipping nationally or handling international shipments, embracing robust LTL freight tracking methods not only ensures that deliveries are made on time but also enhances customer satisfaction and trust in the supply chain process. Engage with a reliable logistics provider to explore the most effective freight tracking solutions tailored to your business needs.

Take your logistics and freight shipping to the next level with Revolution’s innovative LTL freight tracking solutions. Don’t let uncertainties and the complexity of high-value, time-sensitive shipments slow down your business. Our cutting-edge GPS technology provides unmatched transparency and security, extending well beyond traditional delivery windows. Whether you’re a shipper seeking more control and assurance, a consignee needing real-time updates, or a logistics manager aiming to optimize shipping strategies and hasten dispute resolutions, Revolution has the tools you need to succeed.

Why Wait?

  • Enhance Security: Keep your shipments safe with continuous monitoring, even after delivery.
  • Increase Transparency: Gain real-time updates and detailed tracking information for every step of your shipment’s journey.
  • Optimize Operations: Use our comprehensive data to refine your logistics processes and reduce resolution times for any discrepancies.

Contact Revolution today to discover how our advanced tracking capabilities can bring efficiency and peace of mind to your freight operations. Schedule a demo or consultation and start transforming your supply chain management. Experience firsthand how our seamless integration can complement your existing logistics setup with minimal disruption.

Join the logistics revolution—where technology meets reliability, ensuring your valuable cargo is always in sight and on time. Revolution is not just tracking; we’re pioneering the future of freight security and monitoring. Embrace innovation, enhance efficiency, and ensure every delivery is a success with Revolution’s advanced tracking solutions.

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