What is Freight Class?

The trucking industry requires you to know a ton of different, yet important information. Knowing your freight class is one of those things. A freight class or NMFC also known as a National Motor Freight Classification set in place by the NMFTA or the National Motor Freight Traffic Association is a standard and grouping system within the freight industry that describes overall transportability. This is an important system to have in place because of the vast amount of shipments that take place on a daily basis which can get very complicated to keep track of and properly account for the truckload and charge for it. This simplifies the system and provides a common ground between shippers and carriers. This freight class system also helps to smoothen freight rate negotiations and overall logistics. While this system is mainly used for brokers in the industry, having a general understanding of this will prove beneficial in quoting a shipper properly.

 

What Factors Determine Freight Class?

As we touched on above the NMFC freight class is ultimately determined by the overall transportability. Transportability is determined by evaluating four primary metrics which are freight density, ease of handling, liability, and stowability. These metrics account for valuable information for shippers and the freight carrier alike, especially with LTL freight. The metrics are such that if the load is considered low density, etc., you are able to be evaluated and presented in a better and more understandable manner with this freight class system.

 

Types of Freight Class

Here we have included a list of the different NMFC classes and their weight ranges as well as a description of items that would commonly fit that class per each NMFC code to help give you a better idea of the different freight classes. You can utilize this table as your metrics for a freight class calculator to better judge for pricing for freight shipping cost.

Freight class codeType of freightWeight per cubic foot
50Durable freight that fits on a standard 4' × 4' pallet such as automobile engines50+ lbs
55Bricks, cement, hardwood flooring, construction materials35-50 lbs
60Car accessories, car parts30-35 lbs
65Car accessories and parts, boxed books, bottled drinks22.5-30 lbs
70Car accessories and parts, auto engines, food items15-22.5 lbs
77.5Tires, bathroom fixtures13.5-15 lbs
85Crated machinery, cast iron stoves12-13.5 lbs
92.5Computers, monitors, refrigerators10.5-12 lbs
100Car covers, canvas, boat covers, wine cases, caskets9-10.5 lbs
110Cabinets, framed art, table saws8-9 lbs
125Small home appliances7-8 lbs
150Auto sheet metal, bookcases6-7 lbs
175Clothing, couches, stuffed furniture5-6 lbs
200
Sheet metal parts, aluminum tables, packaged mattresses, aircraft parts4-5 lbs
250Mattresses and box springs, plasma TVs, bamboo furniture3-4 lbs
300Model boats, assembled chairs, tables, wood cabinets2-3 lbs
400Deer antlers, small household appliances1-2 lbs
500Bags of gold dust, ping pong ballsLess than 1lb

Understanding Density-Based Freight Class

Let’s take a moment to explore density based freight classes and why they have become so prevalent with LTL shipping in the trucking industry today.

It is true, in today’s world we have seen a change in freight pricing which used to be based on weight is now being more commonly based on freight density. So what is freight density and why does it matter here? Freight density is actually the space that an item occupies in relation to its weight. So weight is still a factor, but no longer the complete picture. To come up with the freight density of an item you could utilize a density calculator or simply take the overall weight of it and then divide by the size volume in cubic feet. Basically this translates to the more high volume density of the item it would be assigned a lower class. To the opposite side of that, the lower the volume of an item it will get a higher freight class.

This has become a prevalent method to determine one’s LTL freight class because it more accurately accounts for the load overall and the space that it takes up in the trailer as well as the weight. With that in mind, the end price of the shipment will commonly be based on whichever is greater, the dimensional weight or the actual weight.

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Example

Let’s continue with the example above. X Shipper agreed on a rate $2,000 with S.L.Y Broker. However, this time instead of using Y Broker directly, ABC Trucking is using Z Dispatcher to find freight. Z Dispatcher knows ABC Trucking needs to make at least $1,500 on the load to stay in business. Z Dispatcher contacts Y Broker about the open load. Y Broker offers the load at $1,400, but Z Dispatcher declines the offer. The two negotiate until Y Broker agrees to a $1,800 rate. Z Dispatcher contacts ABC Trucking about the load and ABC Trucking agrees to haul it. Z Dispatcher charges ABC Trucking a 5% fee. When everything is done, ABC Trucking pockets $1,710, Z Dispatcher makes $90, and Y Dispatcher only receives $200.

Which One Should You Use?

There are positives and negatives to both options.

Freight Brokers – Convenient. Expensive.

Freight Brokers tend to have close relationships with shippers instead of working off load boards, so they are convenient to use. However, they make money by offering carriers the low rates. Their goal is to find the fine balance between offering carriers lower rates while enticing carriers to consistently continue taking loads directly from them.

Dispatchers – Better Rates. Works with other Intermediaries.

Dispatchers work closely with carriers to find them the best freight rates. However, most dispatchers work with freight brokers or load boards to find freight; if you find one that works directly with a shipper, that’s great! Remember, dispatchers do not make money unless you do, so a dispatcher’s goal is to negotiate the highest paying freight possible.

However, the best overall option is to develop good relationships with shippers. Your goal should be for the shipper to come directly to you instead of an intermediary like a load boards, freight brokers, or dispatchers.