A Cure for Freight Class Fever

Freight Classification can be a tricky thing. There are thousands of item numbers to choose from and once you find one that looks right, you have to determine if there are packaging requirements, density requirements or some other hidden note that you didn’t spot.  In total, there are 18 classes to choose from ranging from 50 (lowest) to 500 (highest).

Let us break it down for you. The NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) classifications provide a standard way to analyze commodities. The class assigned to each product is based on four factors common in transportation: density, stowability, handling and liability. Evaluating products in the marketplace and assigning classifications to them makes it easier for shippers and carriers to negotiate rates.

Classification aims to separate distinct items like hardwood flooring (class 50) from hairdryers (class 100), while at the same time combining items with the same general characteristics, like shoes (class 150), for example, into one classification. This makes communication about the product much easier for both shippers and carriers. So instead of having to worry about what kind of shoes, what brand name or size you are shipping you just look for shoes. Easy, right?

Enough with other examples, you just need help finding the right class for your product! Not a problem –  there are a variety of resources available to you. You  could always start by calling us and we can assist you. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you can check out the product list at NMFTA.org where you can buy a book or a subscription to their online product called ClassIT. Or, if you only have a few items, you can pay a small one-time fee and the National Motor Freight Transportation Association (NMFTA) will tell you the proper NMFC to use.

If you’re going to venture out on your own and try to find the right freight class for your product here are 3 helpful tips:

  1. Use density as a starting point.  Learn to calculate freight density to determine your classification range. You can find more  info here: Freight Density.
  2. Read the notes. Many items have notes that explain the specifics requirements for that class.
  3. There is only one correct item number for your product. If you get stuck, ask for help.

That’s enough about freight classification for now. More to come later so keep checking in with us. Happy shipping!


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Choosing the Right Freight Class – FreightQuote.com

Freightquote.com has an amazingly user-friendly quote request interface. Shippers simply log into their account (which is free to set up), enter some pertinent information like weight, dimension, origin, destination, special equipment and freight class, and click a button. Almost instantly, the screen fills with quotes from different carriers, sometimes even from different modes of transportation. The shipper can compare prices and transit times before making a shipping decision.

In order to make sure that the quotes received are the best and most accurate quotes for a particular load though, the shipper must really make sure that he or she has entered the right freight class for the load.

Freight class helps a carrier determine how best to fit specific cargo into the trailer. Pallets of cement blocks probably shouldn’t be loaded in on top of cases of ceramic restaurant dishware. So, the right mix of freight on the trailer is necessary. The cement blocks and the dishware have different freight classes to help with this.

Many shippers consider their freight as “top load only” – believing that nothing should be stacked on top of it. Too much “top load freight” can hamstring a carrier. If nothing else can be stacked on certain freight, filling a trailer is difficult. Because of its limiting nature, “top load freight” is more expensive to ship. Bottom freight can tend to ride on the top or the bottom whereas top freight is eliminating use of 50% of the trailer. Naturally, as you may expect, top load freight is more expensive to ship.
Freight classes range from 50 to 500 – the higher the number, the more easily damaged, the higher risk (and more expensive to ship) the freight is. If your freight has a higher classification, a change in packaging can help drop it down a bit. Any reduction in the risk of damage can help bring the freight class and shipping cost down.

Sometimes, by taking a closer look at the packaging, you could feasibly end up saving some money in the long run.

Freight classes for all products can be found in the National Motor Freight Classification book, generally referred to as the NMFC book. Almost every category of product is listed in the NMFC book, complete with sub-categories.

Each distinct product has a corresponding freight class.

If a shipper has trouble determining the appropriate freight class for any particular load, Freightquote’s expert staff can help identify the right class.  In general, freight classes are determined by the density of the item being shipped. A correct freight class determination is imperative to receiving an accurate quote and not being surprised by a higher charge after delivery is made due to miscalculated freight class.

To make sure that the best possible rate is quoted and charged for freight, a shipper must pay special attention to freight class. Sometimes, just making sure the right freight class is entered can save headache and money in the end. Other times, adjustments can be made to cargo so that the freight class is actually lowered. In any event, shippers can trust the freight experts at Freightquote.com to help make the call.

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