What is Freight class? Have you ever questioned yourself before starting a trucking company? Freight class is a significant factor in the trucking industry.
To continue with, there are millions of freight type shipments in America and yet there are those who still cannot define its meaning.
The question is: Why do we use freight classes?
Generally speaking, these classes determine the freight into further specific and clear classifications.
To put it in another way, they are useful when you are handling thousands of shipments to clients and customers.
In particular, the above-mentioned statement shows the possible common knowledge of freight classes.
Having said this, some may think that it is not that necessary to be familiar with the class codes. As you will learn more about the industry, you will find the secrets that determine the LTL freight class.
What is Freight Class?
There are millions of people in the United States with jobs in the trucking industry, however, not all are familiar with freight class.
They could be involved in the industry for a decade and they could have some knowledge of the types of freight.
Particularly, I would also mention here the truck drivers which are known as the heroes of the highways.
Notably, the truck drivers would go miles in order to transport the cargo, would take the road challenges without any additional knowledge.
Additionally, they would go through the process of truck driver training and get a CDL license but they would not keep further knowledge of freight.
If you are not among the experienced truck drivers or the professional truckers, the freight class determination is rather confusing.
There are dozens of fact which at first make it difficult to understand.
However, it is not impossible to acquire.
According to The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC), the freight class determination is similar to the other grading systems available in other industries.
On the subject of this, The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) defines the freight in classes.
To emphasize, freight class means establishing the commodity of transportation.
In addition, NMFC is classifying the commodities into classes, and there are 18 of them to be precise.
Correspondingly, the 18 classes of freight are determined into further, detailed classification. In particular, the freight classes range from 50 to 500.
To continue with, these freight classes are created in order to help you with your trucking business.
In other words, the classes will help you get standardized pricing for your freight transportation when working with carriers, brokers and warehousing companies.
Things To Keep In Mind About Freight Class
Once you have seen the freight classes, you must assume that you can learn them eventually. You are right, you can.
However, there are things to keep in mind.
The database can be updated by NMFTA at any time. Correspondingly, the determination and classification of particular goods can be changed.
The good thing is, if you happen to have a problem with your shipment and the class codes, you can always contact your freight brokers.
This procedure is made in order to make sure that your shipment will arrive where it needs to, on a budget and on time.
In the worst case, you can contact NMFTA to help you interpret your freight class.
What Factors Go Into Determining Freight Class?
As shown above, the freight classes could be complex. Due to this matter, they are determined by several factors.
In addition, they are determined in order to ease the entire process of classification. More importantly, to ease the shipping for trucking companies.
To emphasize, they are determined by the transportability of the cargo.
In addition to the above-mentioned, NMFC characterizes these classes into specific details. In this way, the entire process of freight class could be easily understood.
Those characteristics of the freight are the following:
All of these characteristics or factors are a crucial part of the freight class. Having said this, you will find out from the definition of each of them as follows:
According to the density, the freight is classified into 50 pounds per cubic. Having said this, there is a further classification of the density, assigned by The Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB).
Notably, the density is classified into 70, 92.5, 175 and 400 freight density, to 15, 10.5, 5 and 1 pound per cubic.
More importantly, the freight which has less density than 1 pound is classified as 500. To put it in another way, the density is actually a space the items preoccupy.
Continually, the item’s volume in cubic goes like this:
Length, Width, and Height
To explain, the density is calculated by dividing the item’s weight in pounds and the item’s volume in cubic feet.
In order to emphasize the above-mentioned, dimensions are usually measured in inches. Furthermore, the density of the item equals the weight of a volume of your freight.
Continually, the weight is measured in pounds while the volume is measured in cubic.
Stowability – The size and shape of the commodity
Most of the freight is transported by trucks, while the rest is hauled by boats and trains, and all of these types of freight are regulated by policies or the Government.
With regards to cargo loading, there is a certain rule stating that some cargo types are prohibited to mix together. For example, hazardous materials transportation includes a specific way of hauling and is always transported separately due to the flammability.
On the other hand, the extreme trucking with excessive weight or length, also makes other freight impossible to load together, and these are the rules everyone obeys.
The stowability classification shows the difficulty and complexity of loading the items which for some trucking companies in the United States create additional charges and need of more fleet.
Ease of Handling – The care needed for the freight
Usually, most of the freight loading involves mechanical equipment and there are no difficulties during the process.
However, as shown above, there are fragile items, excessive weight items or hazardous materials that require special handling. Regarding the difficulty or the ease of handling of the items, the freight has further classifications.
Liability – Theft, damage or perishability
Another factor determining the freight class is the liability. It is a possibility of freight damage or freight theft.
For instance, the hazardous cargo, as well as the perishable cargo, are prone to combustion or explosion which are classified based on the liability factor.
Continually, the freight involves classification by value per pound and density, representing a fraction of the delivery liability.
Once you get to know the important factors describing the freight class, you may think is hard but it is not impossible to learn.
On the subject of this, it is not hard, there are only numbers to remember.
Looking at the freight classification – it is rather interesting. To put it differently, there is a freight that you never thought you will find together and yet belongs to the same category.
Why Is Freight Class Important?
The freight class the most crucial part of the LTL trucking industry and the one that customers think of it as mysterious and complicated. This is mostly due to its function.
With the freight class as a term, you standardize your shipment’s price when working with other brokerage companies or warehouse trucking companies.
The classification simplifies the elements of shipping. It determines the packing requirements while ensuring a safe cargo shipping.
In addition, the freight class also helps you determine the shipping cost by measuring the commodity’s class. In order to get the right freight class without any mistakes, it is best if you hire freight management or brokerage companies.
It is crucial to not make wrong freight pricing since it will cost you more than you can imagine. Getting a freight class incorrectly requires further reclassification and it is time and money consuming.
List of Freight Classes
Normally, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) determines the freight class and is available with the help of the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC).
To emphasize, the freight class goes like this: the lower the class number – the lower the freight charge.
There is also a code in the pricing chart that helps you correct the consistent freight price.
As mentioned above, the freight classification involves several factors regarding the transportation industry.
There is the weight, length, height, density, ease of handling, value, and liability.
Every trucking company needs to determine its freight class based on several criteria. What is important to remember is that the classification needs completion before getting a shipment quote.
Although there are 18 freight classes, there are only 5 as the most common and they are the following:
- Class 60 (30 – 35 pounds per cubic foot)
- Class 70 (15 – 22.5 pounds per cubic foot)
- Class 85 (12 – 13.5 pounds per cubic foot)
- Class 92.5 (10.5 – 12 pounds)
- Class 100 (9 – 10.5 pounds)
To continue with, besides their common knowledge in the trucking industry, a trucking company owner needs to know to determines its freight class that is not available on the list.
Accordingly, the list is the following:
Why you need the list of freight class codes?
As you can see from the above classification, the classes range from 50 to 500. Additionally, each class has its own type of cargo.
Due to the different freight specifications, the classifications are crucial for every trucking company.
Why am I saying this?
For instance, if you do not own a professional knowledge of the trucking industry, you will not be able to recognize the freight types.
Believe me, you will need to know them before you decide what type of freight you will want to haul.
How can you start a trucking company if you are not familiar with the freight class codes?
In addition to this, if you do not want to learn them now, you will certainly need to know them later in your trucking career.
This is exactly the same as knowing which regulations you need to cope. For example, there are the NFPA, the PHMSA and the EPA rules and regulations for the hazardous cargo.
To continue with, there are the NHTSA, FMCSA, DOT, DOL, DMV etc. Although just part of the regulations of the United States, every human in the trucking industry needs to know these.
What is Freight Class Density Calculator
Determining the right freight class will definitely save you both time and your profit. Using a calculator to determine the freight class allows you to plan your shipment.
Why do you need to know the freight’s density?
Based on the cargo’s dimensions, density is the most influential factor in freight class.
Usually, the lower the density – the higher the freight classification. As explained previously, besides the density as the main factor in freight class, there are other characteristics as well:
- How your freight fits in the carrier truck
- The Handling of Freight
- How perishable, breakable or fragile is your freight
Practical Example How To Determine LTL Freight Class
As shown above, transportation determines the classification of freight class which is further including density, stowability, ease of handling and shipment’s liability.
Normally, freight brokers are classifying cargo. As a successful trucking company, you can hire the best brokers in the United States and do the job for you.
On the other hand, if you are a small transportation company, you can do the freight class yourself.
Although some may think that might be easy to determine the LTL freight class, on the contrary, it is difficult. Having said this, there are some rules regarding the determination and calculation of it.
In order to properly classify a cargo of a single pallet, you need the dimensions and weight of that particular pallet.
For instance, if the dimensions are 48”L x 40” W x 45.5 the weight of the cargo including the pallet is 243.4 pounds.
Using this formula, you derive the PCF of 4.8 PCF. Here is an example of the full 32 cartons pallet measurement:
Length x Width x Height = Cubic Inches (48” x 40” x 45.5” = 87,360 Cubic Inches)
Cubic Inches/1728 = Cubic Feet (87,360/1728 = 50.6 Cubic Feet)
Here you divide the unit’s weight by the volume:
243.2 lbs. /50.6 cubic feet = 4.8 lbs per cubic foot
Things To Remember:
Density is the primary key in determining freight class, however, the characteristics in some cases have a very profound effect on the class and therefore the cost.
Simply put, the density is the pounds per cubic foot of your item. Typically, lower freight classes represent items of higher density and therefore a lower cost.
To sum it up, the knowledge of freight class codes can help you determine the cost of the cargo your company is transporting.
Generally speaking, knowing the classes and details about freight, results in providing efficient and economical shipping for clients.
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