Factors for Determining Shipment Freight Class

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One of the keys to calculating your shipment costs is knowing how to determine your shipment freight class. There are specific factors that go into figuring out what factors will impact the class where your freight fits in. Calculating this class wrong could result in a reclassification by the freight carrier, and you would have to pay the difference or try to dispute the change—a difficult and time-consuming process. These are the factors that you need to review to properly classify your shipment.

Density Calculations

One of the first things to examine on your shipment is a series of characteristics regarding the size and weight of your shipment, including:

  • Weight
  • Length
  • Height
  • Density
  • Value

When calculating the density, a measure of how heavy an item is relative to the space it takes up, the classification is based on the weight (in pounds) per cubic foot. So for a shipment with a weight of 50 pounds per cubic foot (pcf), it classification would be 50. Other classifications, as assigned by the Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB) are 70 (15 pcf), 92.5 (10.5 pcf), 175 (5 pcf), and 400 (1 pcf), and 500 (less than 1 pcf).

If you’re not what your shipment’s density is, you can calculate it by taking the weight of the item (in pounds) and dividing that by its volume (in cubic feet), which is determined by multiplying the item’s length x width x height in inches, and dividing by 1,728.

How Freight Will Be Stowed

As a general rule, items in boxes or pallets will be easier to stow than a large or odd-shaped item, such as a boat or a piece of construction equipment. Other items might have government regulations that prevent them from being transported with other items—for example, hazardous materials that must be stored in specific containers and cannot be transported with other items. Other stow-ability factors to take into consideration are long lengths, heavy weights, protrusions, or the inability to stack it with other items that require items to be transported on their own.

How Easy the Load is to Handle

If your freight can be easily loaded with mechanical equipment and has minimal safety risks or hazards, the classification will be different than something that must be handled with additional care or specialized equipment will require a different classification.

The Cost of Liability

Liability calculations take into account the chances of freight theft or damage, or any risks that your freight will damage adjacent shipments. Other things that could factor into a liability calculation are perishability, risk of spontaneous combustion, or risk of explosion. These calculations are assigned a value per pound, which is a fraction of the carrier’s liability.

For shipments that are durable, weigh over 50 pcf, and easily fit on a shrink-wrapped standard 4×4 pallet, your freight costs will be the lowest possible. On the other end of the spectrum are things with a much lower density and/or higher value, which will cost more to ship. If you have questions about classifying your freight, talk to your freight carrier to discuss it and make sure you get it right.