The Ultimate Guide to LTL Freight Tracking

Tima Miroshnichenko |

Shipping freight using less than a full truckload can be a complex and perplexing subject. For those who have just started in the logistics industry, getting up to speed quickly on all the nuances that make up this popular transportation mode is essential. Ensure that your freight is appropriately labeled with all required notations and information. Doing so will reduce the time a carrier spends handling your shipment and the likelihood of damaged goods.


Shipping LTL freight is an affordable method for transporting smaller shipments nationwide. However, it’s more complex to track these shipments than it is to track parcels. LTL shippers may need help understanding the process, making predicting transit timing or the estimated arrival time (ETA) challenging.

Many freight shipping companies offer LTL freight tracking services to improve their visibility. When customers receive a unique number, they can access the carrier’s website to track their shipment and get updates on its journey progress. These numbers, typically associated with a SCAC code, are called PRO numbers and provide an added level of security for the shipments being transported.

Once the PRO number is entered into the carrier’s tracking system, the shipment’s location can be viewed on a map. The ETA and any current delays or problems will also be displayed. Shipments with the PRO number will be scanned throughout transportation at various transfer facilities and must be appropriately labeled to help truckers identify them.

The shipment must be thoroughly inspected for external damage when it is finally delivered to its final destination. Ensure the consignee notes any damage on the BOL so that a claim can be filed. Please do so to avoid months of delays and additional costs for the shipment’s owner.

Bill of Lading (BOL)

A Bill of Lading is a legal document that describes what freight a carrier is transporting and where it’s going. Every load must have a BOL associated with it to be transported.

A lot goes into this document, so ensuring all the information on the BOL is 100% accurate is essential. This includes the freight description, the quantity and type of goods, and any specific instructions for handling. It also details how the freight is transported and the liability limitations for loss or damage during transit.

Each shipment has its unique Bill of Lading because it depends on the type of cargo and how it’s being shipped. For example, ocean freight has several types of BOLs, such as an order bill of lading, a bearer bill of lading, and a switch bill of lading.

Ultimately, all freight that leaves the shipper’s facility must have a BOL to be picked up by OD. All parties involved in shipping freight must ensure the BOL information is correct and up to date. This will help prevent mishaps and make it easier to file cargo claims if needed.

Confirmation of Delivery (COD)

LTL freight shipping is a great way to ship goods across the country. This method of transportation allows businesses to ship items in smaller quantities than a full truckload, saving money and time. However, it is essential to keep an eye on your shipment to ensure that it arrives at its destination on time. Here are some tips to help you track your freight with ease.

The first step in tracking your freight is to get a BOL (bill of lading) from the carrier. This document contains your shipment details and an estimated arrival time (ETA). A BOL is required for all domestic, international, and hazmat shipments.

Another helpful tool is the PRO number. This 7-10 digit number is assigned to your shipment and affixed as a sticker on each pallet or the BOL. It is scanned at every transfer point and hub to give you an accurate freight location.

If you want even more transparency in your freight shipment, consider using a 3PL with a digital platform for managing shipments. These platforms allow you to enter your BOL or PRO number and receive real-time updates on the status of your shipment. This eliminates the need to email or call your carrier and keeps you updated on delays or ETA changes.


LTL freight shipping is inherently more risky than full truckload (FTL) shipments because it passes through multiple points of transfer and handling. This naturally increases the likelihood of damage or loss, so insurance is highly recommended.

If you still need to start using an insurance provider to help protect your less-than-truckload shipments, it’s time to start. Insurance helps to cover the cost of your goods and the financial loss you would incur if your shipment is lost or damaged. The policy cost will depend on the value of your goods, the deductible you choose, and the coverage limit you select.

One of the most common mistakes shippers make when choosing an LTL transportation provider is based solely on price. This mistake can come back to haunt you in the long run. Choosing the wrong transportation provider can result in missed deliveries, costly extra charges, and lengthy, frustrating freight claims.

Regarding your less-than-truckload shipments, you deserve a logistics partner that values your business and treats your needs as their own. 

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