Why furniture is so difficult to classify in LTL

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Why Freight Class is Important

When booking less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping services, the shipper is responsible for providing the carrier with the correct freight class for their shipment. Providing the correct freight class to the carrier ensures you receive an accurate quote for the goods you are shipping and avoid unexpected additional charges from the carrier if they must reweigh or reclassify the shipment once it is in their possession. Sometimes this can be easier said than done. One of the most challenging categories of freight to class correctly is furniture. 

How Freight Class Works

The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) system created and maintained by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to classify freight into 18 categories from freight class 50-500 contains many subclasses and modifiers for products that completely change the freight class into which it fits. Furniture, because of its wide variety of shapes and densities from piece to piece, is particularly tricky to fit into a small range of freight classes. This is because the NMFC system must account for several factors that make up transportability and find an accurate classification based on the combination of all of them. While density (pounds per cubic feet) is often the first and most straightforward measurement taken to determine the class of a freight shipment, other details regarding handling, stowability, and liability (see full explanation and freight class calculator on Koho’s Freight Class page) also play a large part regarding where on the NMFC the item will eventually be classed.

The Wide Range of Furniture Freight Classes 

Furniture can come in all shapes and sizes, and in any number of different styles, materials, or quality levels, making it very difficult to fit categorically into one freight class code or subclass. If you are shipping furniture, Koho’s team of shipping experts is well versed in determining the freight class of a variety of different furniture and can help you class your items correctly. We understand that the freight class for shipping furniture can fall into a wide range of freight classes, from freight class 60 to freight class 400, depending on what it is made from, how it is constructed, how it is packaged, or any other specific options or features it may have, and we can help you evaluate all of the necessary factors surrounding your furniture in order to class it correctly the first time. For example, if you want to ship a chair, a number of factors that make up that particular chair must be considered in order to determine its freight class. Below is a chart showing how freight classes can vary between different chairs:

Furniture Piece Class Range

Basic wood chair - 60-400 depending on density.

Upholstered chair beds - 110

School chairs - 175 or 300 depending on packaging.

Nursing chairs - 110, 150, 250 depending on density

Powered chairs - 100 or 200 depending if assembled or not

Questions to Ask to Determine Your Furniture’s Freight Class

In order to determine the freight class for the chair you want to ship, begin with broad categorical indicators then move on to more specific features in order to narrow the chair into the correct freight class:

- Is the chair in the freight class for office furniture?

- Is the chair in the freight class for outdoor or patio furniture?

- What material is the chair made from and how dense is that material?

Next, consider any additional features or extras that may affect the chair’s freight class:

- Is the chair in the freight class for upholstered furniture?

- Does the chair have wheels?

- Is the chair mechanically powered?

Finally, determine how the chair will be packaged and the manner it will be handled and shipped to finalize freight class determination:

- How is the chair packaged?

- Is the chair assembled or disassembled?

- Is the chair wrapped and on a pallet?

Using CLASSIT to Find Your Furniture’s Freight Class

Typically, most furniture will range between freight classes 100-175, but any number of factors could move a particular piece of furniture much lower or higher on the spectrum. For this reason, it is critical that shippers obtain a subscription to CLASSIT (https://classit.nmfta.org/), the online freight classification directory tool maintained by the NMFTA, or consult a freight class expert in order to calculate their cargo's freight class correctly. The CLASSIT system will evaluate the density, handling, stowability, and liability of your shipments to establish their transportability and corresponding NMFC codes, allowing you to attach the correct furniture freight class to your bill of lading and avoid any additional charges or costly disputes from your carrier.

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