Domestic trucking is the most common way to transport products and materials throughout the United States. Ranging from fresh produce to project materials, or even hazardous goods, all LTL truckloads are subject to regulations imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. A LTL shipment takes place when a trucking company takes various customers' small orders and consolidates them into one truckload, saving fuel costs and increasing efficiency in business operations. Whether you are a common customer or a freight broker (shipping company), you will need to properly calculate your LTL freight class before tendering freight to a carrier.
Using a Trucking Company to Find Freight Class
Write down exactly what you are shipping, its value, what the product will be used for, as well as the weight and dimensions of the order. If you have multiple containers or packages to be sent, record the weight and dimensions of each package. You must repeat the process for all products in the shipment (if more than one type of product is being shipped.)
Search for a trucking company to help you with your weight class calculations. Many trucking companies only offer full truckload service, so search specifically for LTL carriers. Define your search by beginning with "Transportation," then "Trucking," and finally "Less than Truckload."
Call one of the LTL carriers from your list. Provide them with the information regarding your shipment. LTL carriers have full access to the National Motor Freight Classification manual, which categorizes all types of freight into 18 classes of transportation. Classes start from class 50 and can reach as high as 500. The general rule of thumb is the higher the class, the higher the rate.
Calculating the Density
Determine the density of your shipment. Freight classes of LTL shipments are determined, in part, by densities. Use inches as a standard measurement.
Multiply the length by width by height of your shipment to calculate density. The result is the total cubic inches.
Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728. The result is the cubic feet of your shipment.
Divide the weight (in pounds) by the total cubic feet. The result is the density. Refer to the National Motor Freight Classification manual (through your LTL carrier) to verify the maximum density of a freight class.
One website that has a list of LTL carriers is Business.com.
If you are a certified freight broker you may purchase a National Motor Freight Classification manual from its website to have complete access to classification groups.
Verify that your freight class is correct before tendering freight to trucking company. An incorrect classification will lead to a re-classification, and you will be charged extra.
Sean Chappell has been a freelance writer since 2005 and also lived and worked throughout Europe for three years as a certified TEFL teacher. Chappell's work has been published on business blogs such as printerink.com. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in journalism/Spanish from Brigham Young University-Hawaii.