In LTL shipping, you will hear a lot about NMFC codes and freight class. That’s because getting your NMFC code and freight class right is very important for any small business shipper. Small errors could lead to costly billing adjustments, misclassification and frustration. Understanding this component of freight shipping will help you optimize your supply chain and control freight spend, allowing you to spend more time running your business. One of the first steps any LTL shipper can take is to learn about NMFC codes, what they are, and why it’s so important when shipping LTL freight. We can answer all these questions for you.
What Is an NMFC Code?
LTL shipments are assigned a National Motor Freight Classification code, or NMFC code, to balance shipping costs against trailer space. This helps carriers determine the cost to ship freight. The NMFC code was devised by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to make sure that customers get an unbiased price when shipping by standardizing the freight shipping process. Freight can be sorted into 18 different freight classes based on its ease of transportability, ranging from low (class 50) to high (class 500).
Determining your NMFC code is also a matter of safety. Incorrectly classified freight can lead to a dangerous situation concerning weight distribution or incompatible freight types. Not to mention incorrectly classified freight will lead to costly billing adjustments.
What Determines Freight Class?
Of course, a shipment’s NMFC code relies on the item’s freight class, which plays a crucial role in determining shipping rates. In general, there are 4 main factors that determine a shipment’s freight class – and to remember these factors, we go by a little acronym known as SLED.
SLED stands for:
Stowability—This refers to an item’s compatibility with other items on the trailer. This can be in terms of packaging, whether the freight is stackable, or the type of freight being shipped. Anything perishable, flammable, or hazardous requires special consideration.
Liability—Liability refers to the value of freight and accounts for the probability of freight being damaged, causing damage, or being stolen. The greater the risk, the greater the freight class.
Ease of handling—How much care is needed to ship your freight? The level of difficulty or ease needed to ship your goods will affect the freight class.
Density—Pounds per cubic foot or density refers to the measurable amount of space needed for an item. Smaller, denser items are usually cheaper to ship. One hundred pounds of feathers and one hundred pounds of bricks may weigh the same, but one hundred pounds of feathers will take up way more room because they are less dense. This is why carriers don’t always determine shipping costs by weight.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that some commodities may not have an NMFC code. These commodities are referred to as NOI, or Not Otherwise Indicated. Check out the FreightCenter density calculator to help you figure out density.
Your NMFC code and freight class go hand in hand. As mentioned before, misclassified freight can result in costly billing adjustments that could have been avoided.
Let the Freight Class Experts Help
NMFC codes are an essential part of the LTL industry, determining the cost to ship freight and ensuring that cargo ends up on the right trailer with the right carrier before it’s on the road. We’ve developed some handy tools, like the freight class lookup tool that provides a quick glance at common shipping items and their freight class and NMFC codes.