The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) is the industry standard that shippers and carriers use for pricing and organizing LTL shipments. The NMFC freight class is determined based on a commodity’s transportability. There are 18 possible NMFC classifications for LTL freight, ranging from the lowest and least expensive, freight class 50, to the highest and most expensive, freight class 500. A commodity’s transportability is established based on four criteria: density, handling, stowability, and liability. Typically, items that are dense, easy to handle, easy to store, and durable will be classified lower, while items that are less dense, fragile, uniquely shaped, or prone to liability will be classified higher.
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) publishes a list of freight class designations, codes, and subclasses for commonly shipped items (https://classit.nmfta.org/). The NMFC guide provides the freight class and item code for many commodities but not all. If the commodity in your LTL freight shipment is not listed within the NMFC codes, you can apply a general class rate or NOI (Not Otherwise Indicated) class to determine the cost to ship the item. Most carriers will manually process NOI freight items and apply a quote based on the density or pounds per cubic foot (PCF) of the item. It is strongly recommended that shippers take exact measurements for the weight and dimensions of their shipment in order to provide the most accurate PCF possible to the carrier so as to avoid any discrepancies that could lead to reclassification or additional billing. The PCF density of an item can be determined simply by dividing the item’s volume in cubic feet by its gross weight in pounds. Please note that the dimensions measured should include the entire size of the shipment, including packaging and pallet.
The volume of an item on a pallet with dimensions 36 inches long x 36 inches wide x 36 inches high = 48" x 48" x 48" / 1,728* = 64 cubic feet.
(*note that 1,728 is the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot)
If the actual gross weight of the pallet is 400 pounds, then the calculated density of the pallet is 400 pounds / 64 cubic feet = 6.25 pounds per cubic foot. This would place the item to be shipped in freight class 125*.
* This calculation is an estimate only. Density is the main factor for the determination of freight class, but other transportability factors such as handling, stowability, and liability can change the item’s final freight classification. Consult the NMFTA (http://www.nmfta.org/pages/contactus) or contact Koho for help determining the freight class of your shipment.