Shipping costs are not arbitrarily chosen by carriers. Professional and reputable logistics companies use freight class to determine the cost to you, the shipper. In this week’s article, we are going to discuss why freight class is used, how it is calculated, and what that means for shippers.   

National Motor Freight Classification

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association, a nonprofit membership organization, developed the National Motor Freight Classification, or NMFC, in order to establish a commodity’s transportability. Put simply, it is a classification that determines how easy it will be to transport a certain shipment. The system uses numbers, from 50 to 500. Each number is associated with one of 18 classes. There are four characteristics used to determine freight class.

  1. Density. This factor is calculated using the freight’s weight and dimensions, resulting in pounds per cubic foot. High density loads lower the freight class because this means the surface area of the freight is smaller and will allow the carrier to transport more. 
  2. Stowability. Organizing freight can be a lot like playing tetris. Awkwardly shaped, unstackable items will increase the freight class. On the flip side, the easier it is to stow among other freight, the lower the freight class. Most of the time this refers to the shape of an item, but this factor also takes into account hazardous shipments. Hazardous goods cannot be transported with non-hazardous loads.
  3. Handling. While the previous two factors refer to an item as it fits onto the truck, handling covers what happens immediately before and immediately after. Essentially, it is the ease of loading and unloading the freight. Carriers will take into consideration the dimensions, fragility, and packaging. 
  4. Liability. Liability takes a few different elements into consideration. If the item is perishable, prone to theft or breakage, or likely to damage other freight it will incur a lower freight class.

Different shipments will have different combinations of these four determining factors. The lower the freight class is, the lower the cost of shipping. Our team at Loadsafe Crossborder Freight can help you decipher your commodity’s freight class and offer you a no-nonsense quote. Contact us today to get started!