How To Correctly Classify Your Products for Freight Billing

Written by Paul Forand

semi-trailers-534577_640One mistake we see when dealing with shippers is their belief that their carriers are responsible for double-checking all their weights and measurements for accurate classifications.  So, they don't put much effort into it themselves.  

Unfortunately, that's not how shipping works.  The carriers handle so much freight that while they do check a small percentage, for the most part they rely on the information they’ve been given by the shipper. Which means it's only a matter of time before the carrier spot checks a shipment and, due to inaccurate shipment information, additional fees are incurred.

Incorrect weights, or the wrong freight class, can create large fees. And who pays those fees?  In most cases it’s the shipper.

If you want to get a handle on your freight expenditures, proper classification of your freight is an absolute necessity. This is one of those "If you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself" situations. You should know your products and are responsible for correct freight classifications.

How To Verify Your Freight Classification Before It's Too Late

1 - Get access to the NMFC catalog.

The National Motor Freight Classification is the freight industry bible for commodity classification.   So, if you're going to have correct classifications, it starts by getting access to the NMFC.

2 - Verify all your own products.

This is the hard part: You need accurate weights and measures for everything you are going to put onto a truck and that includes packaging materials like pallets. Also, a growing number of materials are classified according to their density, which can only be derived by having accurate measurements.

There are a few ways to handle this.  Obviously, you could hand-measure everything.  Your own suppliers should be able to help as well, assuming they have the right measurements for their own products.  There are also databases available for purchase with information on commonly shipped products.

Finally, most carriers and good 3PLs will help you with the data you need, but you have to ask.

3 - Keep up-to-date.moving-freight

One reason the current system is so unfortunately burdensome on shippers is that the regulations are changing all the time

So even once you've upgraded your systems to provide the data you need, you'll need a way to keep up with any classification changes that affect you.  Again, subscribing to the NMFC is the most direct route, otherwise good communication with your carriers/3PL is probably the best approach.

A 3PL Brings All This Together

The alternative is to hire a Third-Party Logistics firm.  They already have all the data as well as plenty of expertise in integrating that data into a paperless, automated electronic system.  Once you're partnered with a quality 3PL, they can help ensure that you've got current information when needed.  

These services can even be directly integrated into your website to provide a far more customer-friendly ecommerce experience!

Contact ReTrans Freight today for a free cost-savings analysis.