How Freight Class Codes Affect Freight Shipping Prices

September 21, 2016 Comments Off on How Freight Class Codes Affect Freight Shipping Prices

As a shipper, understanding the restrictions and costs of your commodity is important. Whether it’s golf balls or cooking oil, the freight class code (National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC®) number) determines part of the cost and shipping requirements of cargo in less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments.

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) relates freight class codes to the “groupings or grading systems serving many other industries.” Commodities are combined into one of 18 classes, ranging from the lowest class (50) to the highest class (500). In general, class 50 refers to items that are low value, easily handled and stowed, and are very dense. Class 500, on the other hand, applies to low-density (such as ping pong balls) or extremely high-value items. Based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics (density, handling, stowability and liability), each commodity falls into a specific class code. These four characteristics determine the “transportability” of each item.

Freight class codes also help determine if your item requires hazmat-certified drivers or if an item has other special handling needs. These codes change over time. As technology evolves and new items are introduced to the market, freight class codes can be readjusted.

A quality third-party logistics (3PL) provider helps determine the class in which your items belong. However, providing the following details about your shipment to your 3PL provider can help avoid pricing adjustments down the line due to an inaccurate classification.

Considerations for Freight Class Codes

Exact Commodity Know exactly what you’re shipping. For example, if you’re shipping flooring, what type is it? (Bricks, tile, hardwood, etc.)

Packaging How will you be shipping the items – on a pallet or free-standing? What methods will be used to keep the items safe from harm? Freight class codes change depending on the way each pallet or item is packaged.

Size What are the dimensions of the shipment? How much does the entire shipment weigh? What size is each pallet or free-standing item?

Shippers and carriers benefit from correct load classification. Not only can technical errors be avoided, but using the proper code correlates directly with efficiency. For LTL shipments, knowing the classification of the pallet(s) or cargo helps logistics experts pack a trailer better, which helps speed up the unloading process – a benefit to both carriers and shippers.

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