If your business involves goods that require transport through LTL (Less Than Truckload) service, one of the first things you should be familiar with is Freight Class as this is the primary basis for determining the cost of moving your shipment. A mistake in choosing the correct Freight Class generally results in waste of time, money and resources. Which is why classifying your shipment correctly is a crucial aspect of your business that you should give due time and attention.
Freight class is defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) and the list of classes is available through the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). The purpose of sorting shipment by Freight Classes is to ensure a standardized way of charging freight shipments. This is particularly useful when you don’t have a choice but to avail of the services of different carriers, brokers and warehouses. With a specific criteria and basis for pricing, you won’t have to worry that you will be charged unfairly.
There are four main factors that affect LTL Freight Class — density, stowability, handling requirements, and liability.
The density of an item is determined by its weight and dimensions. Density is calculated by dividing an item’s weight (in pounds) by its volume (in cubic feet). Your item’s volume is computed as follows: Length x Width x Height / 1,728 where all measurements are in inches. It sounds simple enough but it requires accurate measurements, otherwise, you will not be able to arrive at the correct density and you may incur additional fees for miscalculation. Generally, the denser an item is, the lower its freight class, and the lower it costs.
This refers to an item’s ability — ease or difficulty — to be stowed and moved with other items. While most items can be stowed easily, there are some that cannot be stowed together, and there are also those that are regulated by government or carrier policies. For example, extra-large and irregularly-shaped freight cannot be loaded with other regular freight. Hazardous materials have to be transported following specific regulations and cannot be loaded with non-hazardous materials.
The easier an item can be stowed or loaded onto the carrier, the lesser its cost. Conversely, the more difficult it is to stow or load an item, the higher the cost, especially when there’s a need to compensate for the additional space it’s taking up.
This refers to the degree or extent of care needed to transport an item safely, from the time it is loaded up to the time it is unloaded. The more special care or attention is needed, the higher the cost. It is especially important to determine the correct handling requirements because a mistake can be disastrous. Just imagine if toxic or fragile materials are not labelled as such and are handled the same way as regular items, the items may not only reach the destination in a safe condition, it can mean danger for those who will be handling the unloading too.
Liability refers to the probability of the shipment being damaged, stolen or damaging other freight. Typically, the more dangerous an item is, the higher the chances that it can be damaged or cause damage. And the more valuable it is, the more susceptible it is to theft. So if your shipment happens to be valuable gems or tanks of liquid nitrogen, you can be sure that you’ll be charged with a higher rate because the carrier has a bigger liability burden. Remember also that you should always make sure that your shipment is packaged properly to avoid any kind of damage.
Currently, there are 18 different freight classes — the lowest is 50, the highest is 500. Costing is quite direct. The higher the class, the higher the cost. The importance of correctly classifying your shipment cannot be emphasized enough. If you’re unsure of what Freight Class to assign your goods, don’t guess. It is better to ask us for help to ensure correct classification, rather than risk choosing the wrong one and exposing yourself to the inconvenience of having your shipment reclassified, delivered late, and costing you more than it should.