One of the biggest challenges in the LTL freight world is trying to figure out what specific NMFC Number and freight class the product that you are shipping is supposed to be. I would say that most customers do not have a clear understanding of what either is and mainly rely on the carriers they use or the freight brokers that they work with. When customers work directly with a carrier, the carrier can assign then customer an F.A.K. which stands for freight all kinds. You can read specifically more about this topic here (link post). This can make it confusing for clients and also more confusing when the customer works with both carriers directly and freight brokers directly.
Let’s clarify a few things right now on what each exactly is. Freight class is a number that roughly represents how dense a product is. There are a total of 18 options ranging from class 50 thru class 500. The basic concept of the freight class is going to be determined by how dense that actual product is. This will have a direct effect on your freight cost.
For instance, if you are shipping hardwood flooring, you take a standard size pallet (48”x 40”x 48”) which could easily weigh 1,500 pounds, would give you a total volume of 53.33 cu. ft. (cubic feet) and a total density of 28.13 lbs./cu. ft. (pounds per cubic foot).
Now, you take something of the opposite end of the spectrum, like ping pong balls. You take a standard size pallet (48”x 40”x 48”) which could easily only weigh 100 pounds, would give you a total volume of 53.33 cu. ft. (cubic feet) and a total density of 1.88 lbs./cu. ft. (pounds per cubic foot).
Now, imagine shipping 500 pounds of hardwood flooring which would only be about one third of a pallet about 48”x 40” x 15”, versus shipping 500 pounds of ping pong balls which would be five full pallets. You can see why it would cost a lot more to ship the ping pong balls compared to the hardwood flooring as it would physically take up more than five times the amount of space. This is why carries use freight class as a main determination of shipping costs.
So let’s talk about NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) numbers and what those really are and why they are used. Think of an NMFC number as an identification number. Every product has one and this number coincides with freight class. If we stay on the same topic of products, hardwood flooring has an NMFC number of 37860 which is a class 55. Now to make it more confusing, flooring has different NMFC numbers depending on what kind of flooring it is. Laminate Flooring is really a class 60 with an NFMC number of 34735. There are also a bunch of different types of flooring that might have different NMFC numbers and a different freight class. But the really tricky part about all of this is trying to figure out what class and NMFC number your product should ship under. That is why having someone like us adds tremendous value to your business because of our expertise.
The NMFC number that ping pong balls would ship under is 15520-2 which is a class 300. The reason there is a -2 is because this NMFC number is density based. That means that you need a density calculator to figure out the total density so we can then correlate that with the freight class that it represents. You need to have the total length, width, and height, along with the weight to figure it out. Since we are spoiled with technology, click here to use a calculator, otherwise here is the formula to figure it out:
Multiply the length x width x height = X
Then divide X by 1,728 = Total Volume
Then take the total weight of the pallet and divide it by the Total Volume = Total Density
Pallet Example of 48” x 40” x 48” and weighs 1500 LBS:
48 x 40 x 40 = 92,160
Divide 92,160 by 1,728 = 53.33 (Total Volume)
Divide 1,500 by 53.33 = 28.13 (Total Density)
Once you figure this out by using the density calculator or manually calculating, here is a simple chart to reference on how to guesstimate what class your freight is without knowing that actual NMFC number. Use this as a worst case scenario, as majority of the time your actual freight class will be the same or lower.
Now I know this is all really confusing, but this is not something you should every have to worry about, as long as you are working with a company like us. We are always looking out for your best interest and are 100% transparent. We hold your hand through this whole process and guide you properly. We explain everything in full detail, and make sure that you are aware of each and every situation. Freeman Logistics would love to hear from you and be given that opportunity to prove ourselves and help make your life easier.