How to Calculate Freight Quotes

by Deborah Kulish; Updated September 26, 2017
Proper freight packaging or crating can increase shipping cost.

Knowing how to calculate freight quotes will give you peace of mind that your package will arrive at its destination safe, secure and for the best price. Freight is considered to be one large item or a collection of small items with a total weight of 150 lbs. or greater transported for personal or commercial purposes. The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) bases freight class on four characteristics: density, stowability, handling and liability. Collect all the shipping details for your item, and obtain price quotes for shipping from several freight shipping companies. Then you can compare their costs and services.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • Large scale or a forklift scale
Step 1

Calculate the cubic feet of the item you want to ship. Measure its width, height and length. Multiply those measurements to find the cubic feet.

Step 2

Find the item's weight in pounds. Use a large scale or a forklift scale, and include the packaging or crating in the weight.

Step 3

Calculate the item's density. Density is the pounds per cubic foot of space. To find density, divide the item's weight by its cubic feet.

Step 4

Estimate the freight class. Enter the item's measurements into an online calculator for a free estimate of its freight class. One website that offers such a freight class calculator is Western Container, which is linked in the Resources section. NMFC states that 18 freight classes exist, ranging from Class 50 to Class 500. A high freight class number results in a high freight rate.

Step 5

Determine the handling format for your item. It may be packaged, crated or on a pallet.

Step 6

Select special shipping requirements for your item if desired. This may include delivery confirmation, special packaging requirements, insurance, temperature control, time-critical delivery or delivery to a remote location.

Step 7

Determine the best method of freight transportation. Options are truck, train, air and ocean freight. The shipping destination influences which mode of transportation you should use.

Step 8

Enter the shipping details into various freight companies' online form for freight quotes. Companies such as UPS and Craters and Freighters offer free quotes on their website. The website Freight Quote allows you to obtain a free comparison of several freight companies, saving you a visit to each company's website. Shipment information needed includes origin, destination, shipping date, transportation type, freight class, weight, liability (value) and special requirements. Stowability is automatically determined from the item's dimensions.

Tips

  • A freight company can help you determine the freight class for your item. Select a freight carrier based on quality of service as well as price.

Warnings

  • Freight quotes are estimates. The actual cost is determined by the carrier you select. Use the correct tools to avoid injuries from lifting or reaching over large, heavy, irregularly shaped freight.

About the Author

Deborah Kulish holds a degree in management and has extensive writing experience for businesses from newsletters, to marketing media, to processes and guidelines. She authored articles for the online media websites Demand Media, Yahoo Contributor Network and her local newspaper.

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