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6 Different Types of Shipping in Canada

Connor Davies 2016-06-30

Shipping anywhere within, to, or from Canada means you have plenty of options. is one of North America’s largest trucking companies, and is made up of four trucking services that specialize in full truckload (FTL), LTL freight, flatbed trucking, and refrigerated trucking services. If your freight is time-sensitive, you also have an air freight option. Freight that has no time constraints going west of Ontario may be shipped by rail. No matter the size of your company or what you need shipped, you will find that offers you service that will give you a competitive edge.

Truckload (FTL) Shipping
Truckload shipping is used to move large amounts of cargo, usually of an amount that fills an intermodal or semi-trailer. Also called FTL, Full Truckload carriers deliver a semi trailer to you, you fill it, fill out the necessary paperwork, and then leave with the freight. The freight is usually loaded onto pallets. Sturdy shipping containers like corrugate fibreboard boxes or crates are often used. A typical FTL will be made up of 24 standard pallets. Learn more about truckload shipping with this Business Fleet article.

LTL Shipping
LTL shipping, which is short for less than truckload, is used for freight that doesn’t require a full truckload. LTL shipments usually weigh between 68 and 9,072 kg, or 151 and 20,000 lb. The downside to this type of shipping is that freight may be handled multiple times before it is delivered. Transit times are usually longer than for FTL because they depend on the network of terminals and breakbulk operated by a carrier, beyond agents, and interline partners.

Flatbed Truck
A flatbed truck may be articulated or rigid, and has a totally flat level body with no roof or sides. This makes it easy and quick to load, and people use this type of truck to ship heavy loads that don’t need extra protection from precipitation, or large items that wouldn’t fit in a closed body trailer.

Refrigerator Truck
Refrigerator trucks are trucks or vans meant to carry perishable freight at certain temperatures. They may be simply ventilated or insulated vans, which carry fruit, but aren’t actually cooled; or ice-cooled using dry ice or mechanical refrigeration systems. Most long-distance refrigerated shipping in Canada is done using articulate trucks that pull refrigerated semis.

Air Freight
Air freight is shipped via truck to an aircraft. Aircraft used in freight shipping may be specifically for cargo, for passengers, or combi aircraft. Cargo planes are made specifically to carry freight: freight is on the main deck and in the belly; passenger aircraft use the extra space in the baggage hold that isn’t used for luggage; and combi aircraft transport cargo on the main deck behind the passenger area as well as in the belly.

Rail Freight
A freight train uses specialized cars according to the type of goods being shipped. Container trains are the dominant type of train freight because containers can be moved easily to trucks and ships using cranes. Bulk freight like grains, ore, liquids, and coal is shipped in hoppers, open-topped cars, and tanker cars. Rail transport is highly efficient, smooth, and economical, but takes longer than trucking the freight to its destination.

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