Understanding LTL (Less Than Truckload) freight class is essential for accurately calculating shipping prices and saving time and money for your clients. This classification system is regulated by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) for categorizing goods based on universally measurable standards. After measuring LTL freight classes, you can determine the carrier charge accurately and select the correct final price. It is essential because it will prevent shipment delays and help you examine the accurate fare as per shape, weight, density, and value. This blog will give you deep insights into LTL freight class and how you can determine freight class based on specific dimensions.

What is a Freight Class?

Freight class, officially known as National Motor Freight Classification, is the standard used by third-party logistic companies or shippers to attain a pricing standard based on specific parameters. The purpose is to compare commodities for LTL freight classification, making common ground for carriers and shippers. It is done by making comparative evaluations of different products that are shipped in the market and agreeing upon a negotiated price for deciding a smooth freight rate.

Factors Determining Freight Class

LTL freight class is determined based on density, ease of handling, stow-ability, and liability. All you need to do is to examine the commodity type and assign item numbers related to the product’s material and packaging.

  1. Density 

Density is the space occupied by the product in relation to its weight. It is measured as pounds per cubic foot (PCF), wherein higher density will be assigned as lower freight class. As per density guidelines, NMFC gives class 50 to freight that weighs 50 PCF. If it is 1 PCF or more, classifications greater than 50 will be assigned accordingly. 

Density is calculated as weight/volume, in which weight is measured in pounds and volume is shown in cubic feet. 

  1. Ease of Handling 

The loading mechanism for different types of container is easy to load and unload. But there are some freights that require special attention and care due to the fragility of the equipment. Therefore, handling is part of representation that involves ease or difficulty in taking shipment from one terminal to another. Likewise, items or freight that require special care can be classified in a higher class and vice versa.

  1. Stow-ability 

Most articles or items stow well in a truck or train and do not require additional space. Excessive weight, equipment hazardousness, or item length can make freight impossible to load. For example, oddly shaped packages cannot be shipped together and will require a higher class or high cost. This determinant provides LTL freight class based on its nature to be stacked with other freights, requiring higher freight classification. 

  1. Liability

Packages prone to damage or theft are kept separately and therefore placed in a high-class category. Liability covers the hazardous freight or the freight that can cause a spontaneous explosion. They require additional caution since they can cause cargo damage.

Why LTL Freight Class Knowledge is Crucial 

Gaining a deep understanding of different freight classes and criteria can keep you and the shipment company on common ground. You can get a clear idea of how your freight is cost. Since LTL shipments are carried on a single pallet and all products have different physical characteristics, an LTL freight classification can give a shared standard price for all shipments. 

What Happens When LTL Freight Class Isn’t Correct

When the shipment departs, the shipper must record goods with the correct NMFC number. Some of the major issues can occur when the freight is wrongly classed.

  • Wrongly classed freight can cause storage problems for carriers.
  • Weighing limits and handling special equipment can also lead to fines.
  • When the classifications are mismatched with the carrier, it can lead to inconsistency for the invoice.
  • An incorrect NMFC number is subjected to scrutiny and inspection. Even when you don’t choose any class, it can get you in trouble. 
  • Incorrect LTL freight class can make you pay more than the final payment. Get ready for costly consequences.
  • As a result, the disputes over the wrong LTL freight classification are complex and time-consuming.
Easy to Avoid LTL Freight Class Shipping Mistakes

Avoiding some minor mistakes can save you from big problems. It is far more crucial to know what to avoid doing than what to do.

  • Stop palletizing items is one mistake shippers make that can cause substantial damage to the shipping containers in the future.
  • Improper packaging for fragile items, leading to accidental damages.
  • Addressing incorrect information at BOL (Bill of Lading). Accurate freight specifications should be presented, as it avoids additional fees and misdeliveries.
  • Saving money through misrepresentation is always a bad idea. The risk of reclassifying and re-weighing freight will make you pay more at the inspection time.
  • Delivery dates are not guaranteed. Stop assuming the same. 
  • Not taking the help of a professional 3PL can put you in trouble. Always take help from 3PL as they can assist you with the necessary paperwork, and they are always by your side.

LTL Freight Class Tips and Tricks

Some of the tricks that shippers can apply for a smooth shipping process are:

  • Calculating LTL freight class based on density is brilliant, but remember that not all items are assigned based on density. Start exploring for other parameters.
  • Freight description must be mentioned on the BOL, and it needs to be labeled. It will be re-classed when unspecified. This label can help you determine product characteristics, allowing you to make the correct decision for the grouping of items.
  • Don’t cheat and try to fudge numbers when billing for landing. This is because shippers who play such games end up paying more penalties. Always be honest!
  • You need to have complete information regarding the protocol of the carrier. Some procedures can be complicated and more complex when assigning classes.
  • You must ensure your freight as multiple factors can abruptly damage your shipment. 
  • Make your cargo protected from rolling around in transit through palletizing. Most carriers refrain from accepting shipments without palletization. 
  • Provide accurate information during shipments such as phone number, date, delivery address, and billing information.

In a nutshell, gaining knowledge about the LTL freight class is crucial for a successful shipper. An inaccurate class can get you into trouble later. When you have identified the LTL freight class, you can quickly determine how much charge you will pay for transportation. Also, being aware of transportation laws and staying honest during the entire process will make your journey smoother. Recognizing determinants of shipments can help you determine the figuratively accurate class to avoid costly consequences in the future.