Determine the Class of Freight

The class of freight of an item is determined by the classification system of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). Before an item is transported, it is assigned a National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) number according to its class. All items belong to one of 18 freight classes. The classes range from 500 to 50. Density, handling, stowability and liability are the four characteristics used to determine the freight class of your item.

Calculate the density of the item. The density is the space the item occupies in relation to its weight. The density is calculated by dividing the weight of the item in pounds by its volume in cubic feet. Your item’s volume in cubic feet is Length x Width x Height/1,728, where all dimensions are measured in inches. The density of your item = Weight/Volume, where Weight is measured in pounds and Volume is measured in cubic feet.

Contact a less-than-truckload (LTL) shipper. An LTL shipper or carrier is a trucking company that specializes in the transportation of commodities and various goods. They have employees who are familiar with the MNFC classification codes and can help to determine the code for your item.

Describe the item you intend to ship and provide its density. The carrier needs a detailed description of the item to determine its class. He needs to know the item’s stowability, which is how easy it is to load and store; it’s ease of handling, which is how difficult it is to move the item from one point to another; and its liability, which is how fragile or perishable it is.

Receive the classification from the LTL carrier. The carrier will look up the classification code for the item based on your description. In general, the denser your item, the less fragile or perishable it is and the easier it is to stow and handle, the lower the class and the less money it will cost to ship.