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August 24, 2021

Freight Class Calculators From 23 LTL Carriers (2021)

Small business owners using freight class calculators to calculate their freight classesFreight class calculators can be extremely helpful tools for anyone shipping LTL freight. They can help you quickly and easily find the correct freight class for your LTL shipment to avoid the negative consequences of a miscalculation. Not only is freight class a major determining factor in the price you'll pay to ship your LTL freight, but if you get the freight class wrong, it could cost you double.

First, you could end up paying more due to the difference in cost between the freight class you thought the shipment would be and the actual freight class as determined by the carrier. On top of that, however, you could also wind up paying a reclassification fee to boot! Don't worry, though; as long as you correctly implement the steps to calculate your freight class accurately, you can reduce the chances of your LTL freight being reclassed.

Let's go over some LTL freight class basics like:

  • What a freight class actually is
  • What the standards are for calculating it
  • Why it's so important
  • Where to go for the best information. 

Then, we'll list some links to free LTL carrier freight class calculators before going over the nuts and bolts of how to calculate your freight density and use it to find your LTL freight class.        

What Are Freight Classes?

Freight class is a number — one of 18 options between 50 and 500 — that represents the transportability of your items. Before there was a standard for determining a shipment's freight class, rates could be wildly different from one carrier to another. Shippers also didn't know what to expect, and there was no obvious way to know what your LTL shipping costs might be.

Luckily, an official freight classification system has since been put into place to allow carriers and shippers to work from a shared set of standards, measures, and guidelines. This method aims to standardize pricing across the industry by using the same factors to gauge a shipment's transportability each and every time.

The transportability of your freight refers to the level of difficulty that transporting your cargo to its destination presents for the carrier. Your freight class will reflect the level of complexity involved in the delivery — with 50 being the lowest freight class for the easiest goods and 500 being the highest to signify the most strenuous and demanding freight — to indicate how much of a challenge the shipment presents.

What Are the Four Factors for Determining Freight Class?

There are four characteristics that are used to sort any and all commodities into one of the 18 freight classes. While using this classification system isn't mandatory anymore, it works so well that most carriers still consider the same four criteria to determine the LTL freight class.

1. Density

How much it weighs in relation to its size in cubic feet will affect how difficult it is to move, how many employees it will take, and how much space it takes up. Generally, the more densely packed your shipment is, the better the price since LTL carriers specialize in moving exceptionally heavy freight. The more items they fit in a truck, the more money they make.

2. Handling

The need for extra or different equipment (e.g., a liftgate), manpower (e.g., extra security for valuable items), protocols (e.g., keeping foods or medications refrigerated), or tactics (e.g., higher quality/additional packaging for fragile items) will cost them more and therefore raise the price.

3. Liability

Valuable, fragile, or theft-prone shipments, as well as items capable of damaging other freight, will cost more to ship. The carrier must take responsibility for the items, take extra precautions, and deal with additional obstacles to ensure their safety.

4. Stowability

The ease with which your freight is stored, transported, and packed into the truck will affect the difficulty and the cost for the carrier. If the shape is odd and doesn't fit easily with other LTL freight, they won't be able to fill the truck as much. They'll lose money as a result.  

Since freight class clearly has a significant impact on your shipping cost, you'll need to know the freight classes of the items you're shipping to get an accurate estimate. Many eCommerce business owners get overwhelmed by all this when they first start using LTL shipments. They're often mystified by the idea of freight classes, baffled by questions about NMFC codes, and completely stumped by how to find answers. So, where can you find an item's freight class if you don't know what it is?

Jump to the Freight Class Calculator Links

The Official Classification System for Freight

Professionals calculating freight density and class through verified freight calculatorsThe National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) is the guardian of the official freight classification system. They created the freight class approach in 1956 to get everyone on the same page, make pricing more uniform, and give carriers and shippers a shared frame of reference for categorizing shipments. It acts as a natural starting point for negotiating LTL freight rates. In fact, it has worked so well that we've all been using it for over half a century now.  

If you need a reliable source of information about freight classes, it doesn't get any better than NMFTA. The organization 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 your items in the directory. You can purchase a physical copy of the NMFC directory for $350 or subscribe to ClassIT, the online version, for $365 per year.

Free Online Freight Class Calculators

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.

Remember, there are four factors that the NMFTA evaluates to determine the official freight class of a commodity: density, handling, liability, and stowability. 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.

Links to Freight Class Calculators

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.

  1. Duie Pyle: Freight Density Calculator
  2. AAA Cooper Transportation®: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  3. ArcBest®: Freight Density Calculator
  4. Beaver Express: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  5. Central Freight Lines, Inc.: Freight Density Calculator
  6. Central Transport: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  7. Day & Ross: Freight Density Calculator
  8. Daylight Transport: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  9. Echo Global Logistics: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  10. Estes Express Lines: Freight Density Calculator
  11. FedEx: Freight Class Calculator
  12. Freightquote by C.H. Robinson: Freight Class & Density Calculator (Must enter email address to get results)
  13. Frontline Freight: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  14. New Penn: Freight Density Calculator
  15. Oak Harbor Freight Lines: Freight Density Calculator
  16. Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL): Freight Density Calculator
  17. R+L Carriers: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  18. SAIA: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  19. Southeastern Freight Lines (SEFL): Freight Density Calculator
  20. TForce Freight (Formally UPS Freight): Freight Density Calculator
  21. Unishippers Global Logistics, LLC.: Freight Density Calculator
  22. XPO Logistics: Density & Freight Class Calculator
  23. YRC Freight: Freight Density Calculator

How to Calculate Freight Density

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 three calculations you'll need to perform:

  1. Multiply the dimensions (length x width x height) measured in inches. The result is total cubic inches.
  2. Divide the total cubic inches calculated in Step 1 by 1,728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot) to get the cubic volume expressed in feet.
  3. Divide the weight (in pounds) by the result of Step 2 to get the pounds per cubic foot, or "density."

You can use these three 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 three 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.

Translate Freight Density Into Freight Class

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 on the edge of a class’s freight density range. 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

The Bottom Line

Freight class calculators can be a real lifesaver. Especially if you're a small eCommerce business just getting started and you don't have the resources to hire an expert to do the calculations for you — or you don't want to spend that much money to buy the NMFC directory but you can't afford to overpay on shipping or get stuck with costly reclassification fees — freight class calculators can be the perfect solution. Every little bit helps, and freight class calculators definitely deliver meaningful results.  

About Eniture Technology

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.

LTL Freight Primer - Free Guide

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