4 Way Logistics, Inc. | Quick Crash Course in Freight Shipping Classifications


Quick Crash Course in Freight Shipping Classifications

25 Aug 2014, by Mike Rogers in Blog, Freight Class, LTL Freight







Freight shipping classifications are notations provided by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, or NMFTA, as a way of helping carriers and shippers understand the standards by which products are classified for rating purposes. Understanding these classifications will help you ensure that all of your packages are shipped safely, quickly, and at the most affordable price.

The Basic Classifications

Products are assigned a number, referred to as Class. The NMFC offers eighteen different classifications for products, based mainly around their weight, density, overall value and stowability. In general, lower classifications involve durable items that are easy to ship, while higher classifications are generally products that take up more space, but have less weight, are valuable, dangerous, or simply harder to fit into a given container without being harmed.

Classifications start at Class 50, generally for higher density items, like nuts and bolts, and increase to a maximum of Class 500 for less dense items like ping pong balls. To calculate density, see the formula at https://4way.com/ltl-freight-company-resources/conversion-formulas/

You can use this to your advantage, depending on the way you ship and package your goods. If your shipments are placed in particularly durable containers, then you may be able to negotiate a lower classification. The listed classifications are not absolutes – freight companies can and will accept changes if you can provide a good reason for doing so.

How LTL Pricing is Calculated

LTL pricing is anything but simple. LTL tariffs are based on zip code pairs, the weight of the shipment and the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) commodity classifications. Also affecting rates are the distance moving as well as the area the shipment is moving to. For instance, because Manhattan in New York is so hard for trucks to make deliveries, rates will be higher than if goes to another part of New York, where it is more of an industrial area and trucks easily move in and out of.

Also, be aware of add on charges; commonly known as Accessorial Charges from the carriers. These could include the need for Lift Gates, Appointments, cross border deliveries; non-commercial deliveries and residential deliveries just to name a few. It is always a good idea to ask your customers prior to shipping if they need these extra services. Since these charges can vary from carrier to carrier, you want to check to all inclusive rate before shipping to make sure you are getting the best possible price.

Good Practices in Freight Shipping

Following the best practices of the shipping industry can help you avoid penalties and ensure that your packages are taken care of.

  • Always talk to your logistics company before shipping out a new type of product. This will give you the opportunity to determine the correct rating.
  • Ship items as securely as possible, without overhangs and with as flat of a top as possible. This will allow for easier stacking and transportation.
  • Always clearly post the bills of lading and any special identifiers, such as hazard warnings, on multiple sides of each packet. This information should always be available to anyone who needs to know it, and doing this will reduce the time it takes to handle each shipment.
  • Make each shipment as easy to handle as possible. Easy-to-move shipments can be stored more securely and are less likely to be damaged during transit.

If you would like more tips about shipping LTL, get our White Paper, “5 Shipping Secrets that Can Save You Thousands of Dollars and Hours of Frustration”