Freight Shipping: what is Freight, and how does it work?

The transportation of products is essential in the dynamic field of trade and commerce, which shapes economies and satisfies consumer wants globally. This complex supply chain logistics network revolves around the idea of "freight." Whether you're an expert or interested in international trade, this blog will help you understand freight shipping better.

In this blog, we will delve into the complex procedures that enable items to go from manufacturers to retailers and, finally, to customers as we investigate the fundamentals of freight. We will explain the many steps involved in getting a product from the factory to your door, including the different types of transportation, important people and companies in the supply chain, and technology's crucial role in making the process more efficient.

This blog will provide all the information you need to understand freight shipping, whether you're a business owner trying to improve your shipping operations, a student interested in supply chains, or someone wanting to know more about this intriguing topic. Buckle up because we're going on an adventure to discover what freight is and how it functions in our interdependent global economy.

What is Freight?

Moving any cargo from one place to another that does not fit the criteria for package transportation is generally referred to as freight. Parcel shipping, which deals with smaller items and boxes, is what most online retailers employ when delivering products to your home.

Each shipping company has its own set of criteria for what constitutes freight, but generally speaking, it's anything over 150 pounds, 108 inches in length, or over 160 inches in length plus girth (the sum of length, width, and height). Shipping goods on a pallet is commonly referred to as freight.

Everything from a single huge item to a pallet full of smaller things might be considered freight. Bigger items like automobiles, building materials, furniture, and outdoor gear sometimes necessitate freight delivery. Certain things are not allowed to be transported by common freight carriers. These include aerosols, costly diamonds, explosives, and perishable commodities, including meat and frozen foods. More specialised transporters are needed for these products.

What is Freight Shipping?

One of the most important parts of any global logistics network is the freight shipping industry, which involves transporting huge shipments. Vehicles such as ships, trains, planes, and trucks—or a mix of these—may be involved.

Months after leaving a port, the goods would finally arrive at their destination, transported by truck or train. The delivery vehicles you see from companies did not carry freight shipments. Transportation with semi-trucks or other large-capacity vehicles is necessary for these massive loads.

The typical method for gauging the size of a cargo shipment is to consider how much room it would require in a semi-truck trailer. Full truckload or less than truckload (LTL) are two possible descriptions.

Shipping methods for Freight

Now, we'll go over the main categories of freight shipments that businesses utilise.

Air Freight

If you need to send valuable products, air freight is the way to go. The pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors rely on air shipment more than others. Even if it's expensive, the customer gets their order faster.

Rail Freight

Companies that need to transport big items nationwide often use rail freight. The cost is lower than other freight options, although it could be more time-consuming than a vehicle. Combinations of rail and other transportation modes are common regarding freight shipping for enterprises.

Ocean Freight

If you need to send goods internationally, you can use ocean freight instead of air freight. But, with ocean freight, packages could take quite a while to arrive at their final destination. Shipping goods via water is the way to go when time is of the essence.

Full Truckload (FTL)

When a company has enough inventory to fill a whole truck, they choose full truckload freight shipment. More than 15,000 pounds, or about 26 pallets, can be loaded onto a typical truck. The freight shipping business determines the load weight and pallet count. As a result, you should constantly check the boundaries with the freight service provider.

Having enough inventory to fill the entire truck is a must for FTL to be cost-effective. You should utilise all available space in the truck to your full potential because, unlike other freight shipping methods, you will pay for the entire truck cost. With FTL, there are no delivery delays. Thus, your order will arrive considerably faster, so it might be worth the cost.

Less than Truckload (LTL)

When companies must ship a certain amount of freight, they choose LTL. LTL freight shipping is the way for shipments heavier than a parcel that only fills up part of the vehicle. In most cases, shipping firms have weight restrictions for LTL freight shipments. Weight limits range from 150 to 15,000 pounds, or about six pallets, depending on the company.

Truck space is shared across enterprises in LTL freight shipping. For example, the shipping company will work with other businesses to efficiently use the truck space for their goods.

Paying only for the items you store, rather than the entire truck, is the main benefit of LTL shipping. On the other hand, it takes longer for commodities to reach their destination because they sometimes have to be moved to other vehicles.

Partial Truckload (PTL)

Partial truckload is a third option that falls somewhere between LTL and PTL. The PTL method can save you money if your shipment is more than six pallets or five thousand pounds. In all other respects, it is identical to the LTL freight shipping procedure. You and other companies pay for the truck and the goods you store in it. The low likelihood of cargo being transferred to different vehicles is an advantage of PTL shipment.


Freight shipment that uses more than one mode of transportation is known as intermodal shipping. Shipping goods by truck, rail, or sea is a breeze with the help of intermodal containers. Since freight is transported in containers without manual handling, businesses tend to favour intermodal shipping. Plus, there are no labour expenses, so it's quite cheap.


Only necessary shipments or strict deadlines should be sent by expedited freight, the most costly option. In most cases, the cost of accelerated products is higher since they are transported by air instead of ship or train. Also included are shipments that use express shipping lanes to ensure lightning-fast delivery.

How does a Freight Shipment Operate?

Freight shipping companies assess shipped commodities according to their ease of loading, handling, and movement. After that, we assign each item a code between fifty and five hundred and sort it into one of eighteen freight classes.

Four main criteria form the basis of the Freight Classification system:

Density: What the object weighs in comparison to its volume. Divide the package's weight (in pounds) by its total cubic feet to get its density. The shipping cost of goods with a lower freight class is lower since they are heavy but space-efficient.

Ability to stow: How well an object fits inside a truck's cargo hold. An item's freight class is determined by its hazard level or inability to be stacked due to its irregular shape.

Handling: Handling the item with utmost care is necessary. There is a higher freight class for items that are fragile, dangerous or need special handling while in transit.

Accountability: The danger that comes with moving the object. A higher freight class is applied to items likely to damage other cargo, are highly susceptible to theft, or could hurt workers.

Shipping freight is more involved than just dropping off an item at the post office because bigger commodities are involved. To properly handle freight, you must have the proper infrastructure, including the appropriate vehicles, loading and unloading equipment, and delivery methods.

Compile the Shipping Information

Gathering the shipment's details is an important first step in shipping. The method of shipment will be decided by factors such as product type, number, weight, size, and dimensions.

Select the Appropriate Mode of Transportation

After you've figured out all the cargo details, the next step is to decide if land, sea, or air is the best mode of delivery. The three most critical factors are weight, freight class, and final destination, which will dictate your choice. To review, we have already covered the various transit options in this guide:

  • Air freight is the quickest but most costly option when shipping goods overseas. It is likely a suitable choice if time is limited.
  • The combination of rail and truck cargo makes rail freight more cost-effective.
  • Truckload is the most common option for carrying freight inside the country.
  • Although it is the slowest technique, shipping goods by sea is the most cost-effective way to transport huge quantities of freight worldwide.

Prepare the Package for Shipping

Proper packaging is required following the selection of a shipping mode. Shipments may be more easily moved using crates and pallets, protecting items during transport. Shipping goods on pallets makes them easier to transport and consolidate.

Crafted from plastic or wood, they ought to be sufficiently big to prevent damage from overhang and strong enough to bear the weight. If you won't be utilising pallets, be sure to have sturdy enough containers, crates, or boxes on hand to hold the load.

Tip: It is important to erase existing shipping barcodes and labels from reused containers to prevent goods from being freight sent to the wrong location. Ensure that there are no holes or tears before applying.

Mark the Package for Delivery

Marking the sender's phone number and address clearly on both sides of each pallet or container is mandatory. In addition to ensuring that the shipment gets to its intended location without delay, this will also clear up any potential confusion that may arise during transportation.

Select a Freight Carrier

If you want your goods delivered on schedule and in one piece, with no damage, you should hire a reputable freight company. These businesses will handle all the necessary paperwork and assist you in selecting the most appropriate shipping method for your items. You should be able to watch your goods' collection, transit, and delivery times in real-time using a reliable freight company's tracking details and notifications.

Tip: To be flexible, find a shipping firm to manage goods of varying sizes, shapes, and destinations.

Obtain the Bill of Lading

The shipper and carrier enter into a valid contract with a bill of lading. When the freight company receives your shipment, they will issue this document to confirm receipt. A bill of lading is commonly utilised for various modes of transportation nowadays, although it was originally associated only with maritime shipping. It includes the details of the sender and the recipient and the shipment's contents.

The Significance of Quick Delivery

Customers expect faster delivery times, and it's your responsibility as an online retailer to meet those expectations. The order is only considered closed once the product has been shipped and arrives promptly at the customer's location, making shipping an essential link in the supply chain.

A third-party logistics provider (3PL) partnership can be an effective supply chain strategy for anyone involved in the supply chain, whether they run an online store, sell on multiple marketplaces, or supply big box stores. It would help to familiarise yourself with the fundamentals of freight shipping and its associated costs before partnering with a 3PL. This will enable you to select the most suitable shipping method.


What is Freight Shipping?

Freight shipping is the transportation of goods or cargo from one location to another using various modes of transportation such as trucks, trains, ships, or aeroplanes. It involves the movement of large quantities of goods for businesses and individuals.

How does freight shipping work?

Freight shipping involves several key steps. First, a shipper (the party sending the goods) contacts a carrier (the company providing transportation services) to arrange the shipment. The carrier assesses the cargo's size, weight, and destination to determine the appropriate shipping method and cost. Then, the cargo is picked up, transported to its destination, and delivered to the consignee (the party receiving the goods).

What are the different modes of freight transportation?

Freight can be transported using various modes, including:

  • Trucking: Goods are transported by trucks on roads and highways.
  • Rail: Trains are used for long-distance transportation of bulk cargo.
  • Maritime: Ships carry cargo across oceans and seas.
  • Air: Cargo planes transport goods quickly over long distances.
  • Intermodal: A combination of multiple modes for efficient shipping.

How is freight shipping priced?

Freight shipping rates are determined by factors like the weight and dimensions of the cargo, the distance it needs to travel, the shipping method chosen, and any additional services required (e.g., refrigeration or expedited shipping). Carriers often use pricing models based on these factors to calculate shipping costs.

What is the role of freight brokers in the shipping process?

Freight brokers act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers. They help shippers find suitable carriers for their cargo and negotiate favourable rates. Brokers play a crucial role in matching shippers with carriers, ensuring smooth transactions, and helping both parties navigate the complexities of the freight shipping industry.

These frequently asked questions and answers should provide a good starting point.