A Quick Guide to Our Freight Class and Density Calculator

September 20, 2022

Freight classes offer a standardized method for identifying how difficult it is to ship a particular type of freight, giving both shippers and carriers consistently fair pricing. However, the price for shipping is more than just a standard rate: you’ll also need to consider tariffs and additional fees associated with the established freight class and destination.

Getting your freight class right the first time is key to saving yourself fees and costly issues later on. Use our freight class calculator to get quick and accurate information about what to expect for your shipment’s density, and one of our online tools can provide the freight classification you need. To know what your quote will be, get started with our instant quote tool for an easier shipping experience. You can also learn more about how these calculations work in our short guide below.

The Four Defining Factors of Freight Class

Freight class, determined by the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) number, uses a variety of factors to determine a baseline for how difficult — and therefore how expensive — it is to ship freight. This can include everything from the freight’s value to the potential hazards of transporting it.

  • Density: This straightforward measurement simply accounts for the space shipped goods will take up in a trailer and how much they weigh. It’s important to be as accurate as possible when providing this information, as requiring additional weight or space for freight than was initially agreed upon with a carrier can result in fees later.
  • Stowability: This refers to the ease with which shipped goods can be carried. Items that are dangerous to transport, quick to expire, or that are very heavy will require additional care and are therefore more expensive to transport.
  • Handling: LTL carriers move freight between trucks, warehouses, and terminals using forklifts, so they like freight that is easily handled in this manner. Freight that needs to be floor-loaded without a forklift, freight that is oddly shaped, or freight that has other special handling needs, will all factor into the handling component of freight class.
  • Liability: Fragile, perishable, and high value freight all have more liability at play when shipping, which naturally increases the cost and difficulty of transporting it. Beyond requiring more care to handle, this also includes some form of liability coverage from the carrier to help protect against potential damage.

A Deeper Dive into Freight Density

The higher a shipment’s freight class, the more expensive it is to ship. This can be confusing when density comes into play, as higher density decreases a shipment’s freight class. Why would the price decrease if the shipment’s weight is higher in relation to its volume?

This standard for shippers encourages packaging that uses as little room as possible to fit more product into the same space. When moving goods long distance, this becomes even more important. Every inch must be utilized to move as much product as possible to optimize the overall cost and investment of time.

Get Started with an Accurate Freight Class Calculator

Our freight class calculator provides a generalized table that will help you understand how your product’s density factors into the shipping price. It also uses density to provide an accurate estimate so you can start saving while you ship. Simply enter the measurement and weight details of your freight into the calculator to get started.