Transportation and Logistics – What is a Freight Class?

Each product that moves by an LTL carrier has a freight class assigned. A single governing body know as the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) determines a product’s freight class. All carriers acknowledge the product’s classification that is assigned by this group, it is virtually the unspoken gospel. The NMFTA will analyze a product’s typical size, value, density and difficulty of transporting that particular type of product. Once they have analyzed the product, they will assign that product a freight class. The freight class will range from 50 to 500. The lower the freight class, the cheaper the cost will be to move the item. Typically items at lower classes will be items that are very dense, easy to transport and will typically have a low per pound value. The higher the freight class, the cost to move the item will be more expensive. Items listed at higher classes will be more bulky, difficult to transport with lower weights and are more valuable.

It is very important that the correct class information be entered into the quoting system to allow customers to receive accurate quotes. A carrier has the right to inspect any item being shipped on their trucks. If a product’s description does not match the class that is shown on the Bill Of Lading. the carrier does have the right to adjust the billing and bill the shipment at a higher freight class. If a carrier adjusts the class and bills the shipper at a higher rate, those additional charges will be passed along to the shipper. Some carriers will also bill additional inspection fees to the shipment, which will also be passed along to the customer as a supplemental bill. Typically a rating system will provide accurate pricing based on the information entered. If the shipment’s class is different than the class that is entered, the amount billed to the shipper will not match the amount they were quoted and can cause issues in collecting the freight charges.

The following are Product examples and their Freight Class:

  • 500 lbs. of bricks- Class 50
  • 500 lbs. of computer towers- Class 100
  • 500 lbs. of Ping-Pong Balls- Class 500

Again, as you can see, the heavier the product the lower the Class rating and thus the shipper will pay a less rate. Freight shipping is not a glamorous industry, but it is a very necessary part of the worlds supply chain, and if utilized the right way a company can save a lot of money.

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