“What class is your freight?” This question is asked every time a less-than-truckload (LTL) rate is run for a customer.
The answer varies based on four factors:
These four items are put together to determine an item’s “transportability.” The current system, known as the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC), has been around for decades and is often viewed as complicated and confusing in the transportation industry.
The plan is for that to change.
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) is a nonprofit organization comprised of motor carrier members and publishes the NMFC. The NMFTA recently announced the “Classification Reimagination Project,” which aims to simplify the NMFC, which currently groups commodities into 1 of 18 classes. The lowest is class 50, and the highest is class 500; the heavier and denser the product, the lower the class.
For example, bricks will ship at a lower class than pillows. The class is then used to determine the LTL pricing. Lower-classed items are less expensive to move, whereas higher-classed items take up more room with less weight, thus making them more costly to ship.
What makes things complicated is the extensive subclasses that exist for various products. The different codes are meant to indicate the cost involved with moving the commodities.
As Mark Solomon notes in his article for FreightWaves,
There are 39 product classifications listed under the category of “cloth and fabric, dry goods and textiles.” Each of those subclassifications contains similar shipping characteristics, especially when applied to a shipment’s density, which in simplest terms, is a calculation of its combined size and weight. However, LTL stakeholders have always been required to match up shipments to a specific subclassification, according to Joel Ringer, NMFTA’s vice president of classification. As part of the new initiative, the 39 subclassifications will be eliminated and condensed under one classification, Ringer said.
This is fantastic news and will save shippers time in having to find an exact subclass for a broad item like cloth and fabric. Solomon notes that another goal for the initiative includes minimum packaging requirements, which is a welcomed addition. The intent is to safeguard products moving through the LTL system. Unlike truckload, shipments going LTL are taken off and loaded into different trailers as they go from origin to destination. If freight is not packaged correctly, it can cause damage to occur. Poor packaging also allows items to get lost or spill over in transit. When a shipper invests in solid packaging at the beginning of a shipment’s journey, the result is savings in the long term in both time and money for them, the carrier, and the customer.
While all these changes are taking place to simplify shipping in the LTL world, Spot has been making it easy for our customers for years. Click here to see how our team of logistics experts can serve your LTL needs.