Freight Classification

Freight classification categorizes commodities by density, stowability, handling, and liability.

Correctly classify your freight shipments.

Freight classification (class) is a National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) standard used to classify and rate commodities primarily based on their density and value. Each commodity is categorized into one of 18 classes – lowest being class 50 and highest being class 500 – based on four transportation characteristics: density, stowability, handling, and liability.

A commodity’s transportability can then be defined and issued a universally known class and rated by Logistics Plus accordingly per hundred pounds.

What is freight density?

Density is an important component of LTL freight classifications. A shipment with a lower density typically has a higher freight classification, while a higher density typically has a lower freight classification. Freight density is calculated as follows:

  • Step 1. Measure the shipment’s height, width, and depth in inches—measure to the farthest points, including skids or another packaging. On shipments with multiple pieces, repeat Step 1 for each piece.
  • Step 2. Multiply the three measurements (height x width x depth). The result is the total cubic inches of the shipment. If you have multiple pieces, multiply the height x width x depth for each piece. Take the results for each piece and add them together to get the total cubic inches.
  • Step 3. Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot). The result is the cubic feet of the shipment.
  • Step 4. Divide the weight (in pounds) of the shipment by the total cubic feet. The result is the pounds per cubic foot, i.e., the density of the shipment.

Most LTL carriers impose minimum cubic capacity rules to effectively counter very light, fluffy shipments that take up more than their fair share of a trailer.  In most cases, LTL carriers state that if a shipment consumes 750 cubic feet of space or more, AND the shipment has a density of fewer than 6 pounds per cubic foot, it’s not paying its fair share. While the rule varies dramatically among carriers, most artificially adjust the weight to a minimum of 6 pounds per cubic foot AND apply a 125 or 150 commodity class to the shipment, which will dramatically increase your shipping costs.

Shippers that wish to avoid freight classifications and density rules can take advantage of the Logistics Plus exclusive LTL Density Rates Program. This program will appeal to freight forwarders and international shippers who wish to guesswork the domestic portion of their overall transportation costs.

Want to learn more?

Need help determining your freight class or have other shipping questions? Contact us and let one of our knowledgeable LTL freight specialists help you.