freight classWhat is Freight Class?

When it comes to moving Less-than-Truckload shipments one of the first things to consider is how the product is defined by the trucking industry.

Each shipment is defined by a classification, depending on the nature of the product. This Freight Classification plays a prominent role in calculating how much the carrier will charge you for transporting it. Choosing the wrong Freight Class could waste money, time, resources, and delay shipments. It is important to classify a shipment correctly.

There are 18 different freight classes defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA): 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 one hundred pounds shipped.

How to Find Freight Class?

Most transportation management systems (TMS), such as our own PLS ProSM, have built-in freight class estimators. If possible, contact the manufacturer of the product. The manufacturer will know the freight class of their own products. Official freight classes are listed by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), and can be viewed in their publication NMFC, or National Motor Freight Classification tariff.

How are Freight Classes Determined?

There are a couple of factors that affect LTL Freight Class. The main four are the density of the product, how the product is handled, its ability to be stowed, and the type of liability it assumes. Here are further explanations of each:

    • Density: 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 product’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.

    • 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.

    • 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. Therefore, a classification that represents ease or difficulty of loading and carrying the freight is assigned to the items.
    • Liability: Liability is the probability of freight theft or damage, or damage caused 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.

Freight Class plays a large role in the price of shipping. Choosing the wrong Freight Class can lead to surprise fees. Select the correct classification with the help of a TMS, like PLS Pro, or by subscribing to the NMFC publication, and keep shipping without hassle.