Less Than Truckload shipping is operated through a series of hubs or terminals. Shipments from different businesses are combined at these hubs, and shipping companies try to fill up trucks as best they can to maximize profits. The freight is shipped via ground transportation and may make several transfers at different hubs until it reaches its destination.
LTL companies have to balance their own need to fill up the trucks with their customers' needs for on time delivery. Different companies may specialize in a select geographic region in order to better ensure that their trucks will fill up. If these companies are used to make a shipment outside that region, they will generally transfer to yet another LTL freight company who can finish the delivery.
When choosing a Less Than Truckload company, the on time delivery rate should be seriously considered. The company should ideally be able to quote an on time rate of at least 90%. Of course some delays are inevitable due to weather or mechanical failure, but the company should at least have a sophisticated electronic tracking system in place to explain such problems when they occur.