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Why getting U.S. LTL Truck Freight Classifications right is so important

There are eighteen different U.S. LTL Truck Freight Classifications.  Choosing the right one is important because a mistake can lead to increased costs that are entirely avoidable.  For example, it is important to show the right National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) item number on the bill of lading, as this is required to allocate correct shipping costs and avoid reclassification or rate differences.

Freight class questions and answers

Q:  What is a Freight Class? 

A: Freight Classes provide common standardized freight pricing for use by carriers, warehouses and brokers.  Freight Classes are defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) and made available through the NMFC or National Motor Freight Classification.

Q:  What is a National Motor Freight Classification?

A: In the United States, each commodity or type of product is assigned a National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and corresponding class for less than truckload (LTL) freight shipments.  The NMFC system gives consumers a uniform pricing structure when transporting freight.  The number assigned to an item is important to LTL carriers in determining the tariffs, which in turn determine the price charged to the customer.

Q:  What factors are used to calculate Freight Class?

Freight Class is based on weight, length and height, density, ease of handling, value and liability from things like theft, damage, break-ability and spoilage.  The definitions for each are as follows:

  • (Weight, Length, Height) Density and Value: Density guidelines assign classification 50 to freight that weighs 50 pounds per cubic foot.  The Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB) assigns classifications 70, 92.5, 175 and 400 to freight with densities of 15, 10.5, 5, and 1 pound per cubic foot, respectively. Freight less dense than 1 pound per cubic foot is classified as 500.

    The density is the space the item occupies in relation to its weight.  The density is calculated by dividing the weight of the item in pounds by its volume in cubic feet.  Your item’s volume in cubic feet is Length x Width x Height/1,728, where all dimensions are measured in inches.  The density of your item = Weight/Volume, where Weight is measured in pounds and Volume is measured in cubic feet.

  • Stow-ability: Most freight stows well in trucks, trains and boats, but some articles are regulated by the government or carrier policies.  Some items cannot be loaded together.  Hazardous materials are transported in specific manners.  Excessive weight, length or protrusions can make freight impossible to load with other freight.  The absence of load-bearing surfaces makes freight impossible to stack.  A quantifiable stow-ability classification represents the difficulty in loading and carrying these items.
  • Handling: Most freight is loaded with mechanical equipment and poses no handling difficulties, but some freight, due to weight, shape, fragility or hazardous properties, requires special attention.  A classification that represents ease or difficulty of loading and carrying the freight is assigned to the items.
  • Liability: Liability is probability of freight theft or damage, or damage to adjacent freight.  Perishable cargo or cargo prone to spontaneous combustion or explosion is classified based on liability and assigned a value per pound, which is a fraction of the carrier’s liability.  When classification is based on liability, density must also be considered.

Q:  What are the 18 Different Types of Freight Class?

Class Name Cost Notes, Examples Weight Range
Per Cubic Foot
Class 50 – Clean Freight Lowest Cost Fits on standard shrink-wrapped 4X4 pallet, very durable over 50 lbs
Class 55   Bricks, cement, mortar, hardwood flooring 35-50 pounds
Class 60   Car accessories & car parts 30-35 pounds
Class 65   Car accessories & car parts, bottled beverages, books in boxes 22.5-30 pounds
Class 70   Car accessories & car parts, food items, automobile engines 15 to 22.5 pounds
Class 77.5   Tires, bathroom fixtures 13.5 to 15 pounds
Class 85   Crated machinery, cast iron stoves 12-13.5 pounds
Class 92.5   Computers, monitors, refrigerators 10.5-12 pounds
Class 100   Boat covers, car covers, canvas, wine cases, caskets 9-10.5 pounds
Class 110   Cabinets, framed artwork, table saw 8-9 pounds
Class 125   Small Household appliances 7-8 pounds
Class 150   Auto sheet metal parts, bookcases 6-7 pounds
Class 175   Clothing, couches stuffed furniture 5-6 pounds
Class 200   Auto sheet metal parts, aircraft parts, aluminum table, packaged mattresses 4-5 pounds
Class 250   Bamboo furniture, mattress and box spring, plasma TV 3-4 pounds
Class 300   Wood cabinets, tables, chairs setup, model boats 2-3 pounds
Class 400   Deer antlers 1-2 pounds
Class 500 – Low Density or High Value Highest Cost Bags of gold dust, ping pong balls Less than 1 lbs.

For more information, contact Lisa Fertita, General Manager – Freight Services.

Quick Tip #53
Always have a back-up plan

Do you have a Plan B when something goes wrong with a shipment?  It happens sooner or later with every company that has regular shipments.

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