4 Characteristics that Determine Your LTL Freight Class

When it comes to moving Less-than-Truckload shipments from point A to point B, one of the first things to consider is how the product is defined by the trucking industry. In the world of shipping, different types of products are defined according to their makeup. Each product definition is called a classification. The class of freight plays a prominent role in calculating how much the carrier will charge you for transporting it.LTL Freight Class How many classes are there?

There are 18 different classes LTL freight can ship under: 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 77.5, 85, 92.5, 100, 110, 125, 150, 175, 200, 250, 300, 400 and 500. The higher the class, the higher the rate for every hundred pounds you ship. How do you find the class? The many definitions or classes of freight are listed in the National Motor Freight Classification tariff, commonly referred to as the NMFC. The NMFC is a publication for motor carriers containing rules, descriptions, and ratings of all commodities. The publication is used to classify freight for freight bill rating purposes. Besides defining the classes of shipping commodities, the NMFC also assigns item numbers to each type of commodity. The item number is related not only to the commodity itself, but to its packaging, the material from which the commodity is made, and other considerations. Item numbers are associated with rates as well as commodity classifications. PLS Logistics Services’ LTL department is very familiar with the NMFC classification and can help you determine the proper class of your item. How are freight classes determined? Before a class can be determined, there are some characteristics about the freight that need to be identified. You need to know how dense the freight is, the stow- ability, how it’s handled, and what type of liability it assumes. The definitions for each are as follows:

  1. Density and Value: Density guidelines assign classification 50 to freight that weighs 50 pounds per cubic foot. The Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB) assigns classifications 70, 92.5, 175 and 400 to freight with densities of 15, 10.5, 5, and 1 pound per cubic foot, respectively. Freight less dense than 1 pound per cubic foot is classified as 500. The density is the space the item occupies in relation to its weight. The density is calculated by dividing the weight of the item in pounds by its volume in cubic feet. Your item’s volume in cubic feet is Length x Width x Height/1,728, where all dimensions are measured in inches. The density of your item = Weight/Volume, where Weight is measured in pounds and Volume is measured in cubic feet.
  2. Stow-ability: Most freight stows well in trucks, trains and boats, but some articles are regulated by the government or carrier policies. Some items cannot be loaded together. Hazardous materials are transported in specific manners. Excessive weight, length or protrusions can make freight impossible to load with other freight. The absence of load-bearing surfaces makes freight impossible to stack. A quantifiable stow-ability classification represents the difficulty in loading and carrying these items.
  3. Handling: Most freight is loaded with mechanical equipment and poses no handling difficulties, but some freight, due to weight, shape, fragility or hazardous properties, requires special attention. A classification that represents ease or difficulty of loading and carrying the freight is assigned to the items.
  4. Liability: Liability is probability of freight theft or damage, or damage to adjacent freight. Perishable cargo or cargo prone to spontaneous combustion or explosion is classified based on liability and assigned a value per pound, which is a fraction of the carrier’s liability. When classification is based on liability, density must also be considered.

In conclusion, the class of your freight plays a prominent role in calculating how much the carrier will charge you for transporting it. Knowing the characteristics of the freight is very important. If a product is misclassed, then the payer of the shipping charges runs the risk of: (1) Paying too much or (2) Could violate transportation law which could lead to hefty fines if caught trying to pay a cheaper rate.