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As a small or medium sized business owner or manager, controlling your company’s freight spend and managing expenses are some of your top priorities. You want to deliver the best product and experience to your customers at the best price for you. That includes getting affordable shipping rates when it’s time to ship. We will show you what you need to know about shipping costs so you can make better decisions when it comes to your shipping options. You’ll walk away with a practical understanding of shipping costs that’s informative and easy to put to use in the operation of your business.

What Factors Affect Freight Shipping Costs?

There are several factors that may affect your freight shipping cost. These factors include:

  • Weight
  • Dimensions
  • Density
  • Stowability
  • Packaging
  • Fragility
  • Destination specifications
  • Mode of transportation
  • Time sensitivity
  • Freight class

About Weight, Dimensions and Density

Which costs more to ship: 100 pounds of bricks or 100 pounds of feathers? If you guessed 100 pounds of feathers, then you are correct. This is because, when shipping freight, an important cost factor is an item’s density, or weight versus dimensions. In other words, 100 pounds of feathers takes up more space in a truck than 100 pounds of bricks, even though they weigh the same. Therefore, shipping the feathers would be more expensive.

Similarly, an item that is broken down into smaller pieces, making it easier to transport, can be less expensive to ship than when it is fully assembled. For example, let’s say you are shipping a dresser. The freight class for an assembled dresser (aka stand up, or SU) is 125, and the freight class for an unassembled dresser (aka knocked down, or KD) is 85.

When completely disassembled or knocked down flat, i.e. Ikea furniture, a dresser has a lower freight class than if it is assembled. The cost to ship a dresser from Florida to Texas costs $148.97 disassembled, but $161.86 assembled. Therefore, it is important to consult with a freight specialist to determine the most cost-effective way to ship your item.

Stowability, Fragility, Packaging, and Destination Specifications

The shape, breakability and packaging can all play a role in determining freight shipping costs. For instance, along the same lines as our feathers versus bricks example from above, think about shipping a kayak, which could weigh anywhere from 35 to 60 pounds, and can range from under seven to over nine feet. Compare this with an item weighing the same amount that is packed in a crate or box and placed on a pallet. Which do you think will be more expensive?

LTL shipping loads are frequently unloaded and reloaded, making larger, more awkward items more difficult to ship. Additionally, larger kayaks are more likely to incur excessive length charges. Therefore, the price to ship a kayak will likely be more expensive than shipping a crated or boxed and palletized item boxed item of the same weight.

On the other hand, fragile and complex items also require special handling. These items might include:

  • Electronic devices or robotics.
  • Industrial equipment (commercial refrigeration, restaurant equipment, etc.)
  • Furniture.

You may have to select various types of freight shipping add-ons or accessorials which impact freight shipping costs. For example, requesting a call before delivery, requesting inside delivery or delivering to a limited access location can all increase costs. Limited access locations can include:

  • Storage units.
  • Churches.
  • Schools.
  • Commercial establishments not open to the public.
  • Construction sites.
  • Farms.
  • Fairs or carnivals.

Mode of Transportation and Delivery Time

There are several different modes of shipping freight, including truck, train, ship or airplane. The mode of transportation often depends on the type of shipment as well as delivery time. For example, air shipping is a more expensive option but is ideal when you need to accommodate a deadline. On the other hand, LTL shipping or train shipping tend to be less expensive but not ideal for tight deadlines.

Freight Class

An item’s freight class will have an impact on the freight shipping cost as well. An item’s freight class is determined by a standard called the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). This classification system compares commodities and groups them into one of 18 classes, ranging from a class of 50 on the low end and up to 500 on the high end. This freight classification is then used in quoting to provide a more accurate estimate.

Essentially, freight classes describe an item’s transportability, taking into consideration its density, stowability, ease of handling and liability. Generally, the higher the freight class, the more expensive the item is to ship.

Need to determine an item’s freight class? Use our freight density calculator tool to get an item’s freight class based on dimensions and weight of your packaged freight.

Ready to Get a Freight Shipping Quote?

While we are all about educating our customers on the ins and outs of shipping, remember that you always have a team of freight shipping experts ready to help and answer any questions that come up.

FreightCenter’s team of freight specialists make it easy to find the best way to ship your item. If you’re ready to ship, you have options. Get an online quote or work with one of our shipping experts at 844-212-7447.

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