What is freight class and what role does it play in the shipping process? Believe it or not, even the most experienced shippers often struggle with freight class, and it could end up costing you an unnecessary billing adjustment in the end. So, what is freight class? And how can you find your shipment’s correct freight class and avoid surprise invoice adjustment? Let’s dive in.
What is Freight Class?
Freight class is a classification system created by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to standardize freight classification. Shipping commodities are rated and grouped into 18 freight classes between 50 and 500.
Thousands of commodities are assigned NMFC codes based on the following four factors:
- Density: Weight per cubic foot.
- Stowability: The placement and space required.
- Handling: The amount of care needed to transport the item safely.
- Liability: The shipment’s value and the cost to replace in the event of theft, damage, breakage or spoilage.
Freight class is specific only to LTL shipments since carriers are handling different kinds of cargo in the back of a freight truck that shares space with other shipments instead of truckload (TL) shipping, which has dedicated trucks for larger volume loads. If you’re shipping anything LTL, you will need to make sure the freight class you report for your freight is accurate to avoid any reclassification billing adjustments down the road.
What’s the Point of Freight Class?
Freight class helps carriers properly optimize their load capacity and move freight more efficiently. This rating system also ensures established, transparent parameters for how carriers charge their shipping rates and allows shippers to compare shipping costs. Freight class is a crucial part of the freight shipping process because knowing what your freight’s class means you’ll get the most accurate LTL freight quote and reduce the risk of a reclassification billing adjustment.
Freight class serves as a universal benchmark for freight rate pricing and protects shippers and helps keep the general supply chain moving fluidly and productively.
Freight Class Best Practices
There are steps you should take as a shipper to ensure you get the most accurate freight class and LTL freight quote:
- Never guesstimate. Carriers verify shipment details like weight, dimensions, and contents and even the slightest misreported inaccuracy could result in a reclassification billing adjustment. Always have the most precise measurements and weight of your shipments.
- Packaging is key. Package your freight as densely and compactly as possible. Take into account certain things like stowability and ease of handling for carriers. Make things as simple as you can. Refer to our Guide to Freight Packaging for a more comprehensive look at everything freight packaging.
- Partner with a 3PL. 3PLs have the know-how and resources to lower your overall freight costs using freight class. They can make sure you get the correct freight class and give you insider tips to avoid billing adjustments and get the most affordable rates.
FreightCenter is Your Freight Class Expert
Partnering with a 3PL like FreightCenter means you’ll never have to worry about freight class again. We’ll guide you through each step of the process and make sure you’re getting freight class right.