4 Factors That Determine Your LTL Freight Class

Written by Paul Forand

tms-meetingFreight classification can be complex, and it's getting more complicated all the time.  Are you keeping track of regulations, and guaranteeing that your freight is always being shipped under the correct guidelines?

There are four major factors that come into play for classifying an LTL shipment. At the very least, you or your Transportation Director should be familiar with these.  Ideally, you should be considering a Transportation Management System that incorporates these aspects into its database, since a proper TMS can stop a lot of headaches - as well as preventing unnecessary fees!

So if you haven't already, start thinking about your products in the following terms.  It'll undoubtedly help ensure accurate freight charges without any surprises.

Factors That Determine Freight Classes

There are 18 freight classes established by the NMFC ranging from Class 50 (least expensive) to Class 500 (most expensive). The class of your shipment is determined by its contents and the NMFC Item #. Your shipment’s freight class determines what the carrier will charge to transport it.

1 - Density

Most shippers are aware, of course, that they need the weight, physical dimensions and value of the product being shipped. What fewer realize is that density is also becoming a widely-used standard for determining freight classes.  

Density is easy to calculate, of course:  It's the mass of the object, divided by its volume.  However, you need to have accurate weights and measures in the first place to calculate it.  Otherwise, there's a growing list of items (such as glassworks or metal kitchen hardware) that are considered to be density-based products and will incur fees if the density is miscalculated.

2 - Stowability

Is the item being shipped of a standard and predictable size that fits onto a regular shipping pallet?  Even if two objects have the same weight/density, their associated fees will be much different if one of the objects occupies a larger amount of space or is irregular in shape.

There's a limit to how much "squeezing" a carrier can do with big or oddly-shaped objects.   If your product is difficult to handle, you may be paying extra to compensate for the extra space it's taking up.

3 - Handling Requirements

Is the material being hazmat-symbol, toxic, prone to spillage, refrigerated, or otherwise requires special care and handling for safe delivery?  If so, that will add to the costs - often dramatically.  This can range from renting the equipment needed to store the material (like refrigerated trucks) to matters like hazard pay for workers handling a poisonous material. 

In terms of ensuring your goods arrive intact at the quoted price, this is one of the most critical categories.  A mistake in the handling requirements can be disastrous.

4 - Liability Exposure

This piggybacks on #3 - the more valuable or dangerous a product is, the higher the liability exposure will be.  Likewise, the need (and prices) for insurance will also go up.

A load of diamonds is far more likely to be stolen than a load of screws.  Barrels of liquid nitrogen are much more dangerous than barrels of talcum powder.  In most cases, the carrier takes on the liability burden here, but they will be passing those costs on to you.

Your shipment also needs to be packaged properly to ensure that it is delivered safely. Improper packaging may void the carrier’s liability for damage.

Need More Help?  Get A 3PL!

Today's modern third-party logistics firms have the systems in place to take the complication out of the freight process and allow you to focus on your core business.

Contact ReTrans Freight today.