When you want to know the estimated shipping cost for an LTL freight shipment, you need to know the freight classes of the items you’ll be shipping. Freight class is a number that represents the transportability of your items. It has a significant impact on what you will pay for shipping. So where can you find an item’s freight class if you don’t know what it is?
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) is the guardian of the official classification system for freight. It publishes the National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC®) directory which contains a comprehensive list of all commodities. You’ll find the official freight class for all of your items in the directory. You can purchase a physical copy of the NMFC directory for $330, or subscribe to ClassIT, the online version, for $345 per year.
Fortunately, instead of forking over your hard-earned dollars to the NMFTA, you can find free calculators online. Some of them will only calculate freight density, and you’ll still need to look up the freight class in a table. Be aware that the free online calculators aren’t a perfect replacement for the NMFC directory because they only take density into consideration.
There are four factors that the NMFTA evaluates to determine the official freight class of a commodity: density, stowability, handling, and liability. However, density is the most important factor and the online calculators will be accurate most of the time. If you’re concerned that you have items that might be impacted by the other three factors, you may still want to consider buying the printed or online version of the NMFC directory.
Below is a list of links to the online calculators of several carriers. Each link identifies the type of calculator you’ll find.
Most of the time the calculators will return the same result. In rare cases, two calculators can return adjacent freight classes for the same item. This happens when calculators round the freight density number differently and the final results correspond to different freight classes. Therefore, if one’s available, it’s a good idea to use the calculator of the carrier you intend to ship with.
If you elect to use one of the density calculators, use the table included later in this article to look up the freight class of your shipment.
Using an online calculator will be time-consuming if you have a lot of calculations to do. Perhaps you’re setting up an online store with thousands of items? If you have basic spreadsheet skills, you can use formulas to calculate freight density. Here are the 3 calculations you’ll need to perform:
You can use these 3 steps for individual items or for handling units such as a crate, pallet or skid.
If you have an item that will ship as multiple packages, you can also use these 3 steps to determine the freight density. In Step 1, calculate the cubic volume (in inches) of each package and then add them together. In Step 3, divide the total weight of all the packages by the result of Step 2.
Use the table below to identify the freight class that corresponds to your item’s freight density. Remember that density is only one of four factors in the classification system for freight and that the official resource is the NMFC directory. Be cautious if the freight density is borderline. For example, if the freight density is 34.995 you might want to call your LTL freight carrier to verify if you should be using 55 or 60.
|Freight Density (in pounds per cubic foot)||Freight Class|
|Freight Density >= 50||50|
|35 <= Freight Density < 50||55|
|30 <= Freight Density < 35||60|
|22.5 <= Freight Density < 30||65|
|15 <= Freight Density < 22.5||70|
|13.5 <= Freight Density < 15||77.5|
|12 <= Freight Density < 13.5||85|
|10.5 <= Freight Density < 12||92.5|
|9 <= Freight Density < 10.5||100|
|8 <= Freight Density < 9||110|
|7 <= Freight Density < 8||125|
|6 <= Freight Density < 7||150|
|5 <= Freight Density < 6||175|
|4 <= Freight Density < 5||200|
|3 <= Freight Density < 4||250|
|2 <= Freight Density < 3||300|
|1 <= Freight Density < 2||400|
|Freight Density < 1||500|
Eniture Technology specializes in helping e-Commerce merchants grow by providing useful information, digital marketing services, off-the-shelf apps that solve common problems, and custom programming services. Please contact us if you need help growing your online business or implementing the concepts presented in this blog post.
If you are interested in offering LTL freight as an option on your online store, take advantage of our free guide on LTL freight.
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