less than truckload quotes

Less Than Truckload Rates | What You Need For LTL Shipping Rates

less than truckload quotes
LTL Quotes
A less than truckload (LTL) shipping rate is based on several different factors, all of which we’ll go over in this blog.  If you’re unsure of how these relate to your product, just let us know and we’ll help you out! Typically, an LTL quote will take up less than 12 feet of linear space on a truck. For those of you who don’t have truck dimensions tacked to your office walls, this equates to 6 standard size pallets, not stacked. A standard size pallet is typically 48” x 40” or sometimes 48” x 48”. If your shipment takes up more space than this, you may need  a volume shipping quote or a Full Truckload quote. Now that we’ve defined LTL, what exactly do we need to get accurate less than truckload rates? It comes down to 4 basic must-haves: Origin zip code, destination zip code, total weight, and freight class. I can’t say this enough: THESE FOUR PIECES OF INFORMATION ARE ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. The zip codes and total weight are self-explanatory, but freight class can sometimes be more complicated.  We have an excellent blog explaining freight class if you need assistance on that end. Your freight broker can help with your freight class as well. Another vital piece of information for less than truckload rates is the mention of additional services. The standard LTL shipment is business-to-business and dock-to-dock. If you don’t have a shipping dock or forklift to get the pallets off the truck, you’ll need a liftgate, which can cost extra.  Residential shipping also costs extra, as do several other things. Check out our Additional Services Cheat Sheet for more information on theses accessorials. They can change your freight quote and can make a difference in which carrier you select. Less than truckload has a lot of moving parts, and this blog is just a primer. If you’re new to shipping, be sure to download our Beginner’s Freight Shipping Guide, and check in on our collection of instructional Freight Papers, all available for FREE on our website. Happy Shipping! CC image courtesy Sergio Russo via Flickr
freight class

Freight Class Explained For LTL Shipments

freight class Freight Class is an important part of the LTL shipping industry, but one that most new shippers are confused by. What is freight class? How do I find mine? How does the class affect my shipping price?  Read on, my friend!  You’re in the right place.

Freight Class Definition

Let’s begin with a definition. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) defines class as a way “to establish a commodity’s transportability.” The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) is the standard which enforces this system, grouping commodities into one of 18 classes – ranging from 50 to 500. The NMFC determines this class using four characteristics : Density, Stowability, Handling and Liability.

Density: An item’s density is determined by its weight and dimensions. Check out our density calculator to determine your item’s density in pounds per cubic foot. The higher the density, the lower the class and ultimately, the lower the cost.  This may seem backwards at first glance, but consider this: Carriers love shipping freight that is heavy and doesn’t take up much space compared to its weight.  This means they can fit more product on their truck, which means more cash in their wallets.

Stowability: Stowability is bit harder to define, though a good rule of thumb is to think of it as an item’s ability to be “stowed” or transported in relation to other items. This takes into account hazardous shipments (which cannot be moved with non-hazardous shipments) or items with strange dimensions that make it difficult to load freight around them.

Handling: Handling concerns the item’s ability to be handled as the freight is loaded and unloaded from LTL terminal to LTL terminal. Dimensions, fragility and packaging play a role in how difficult an item is to handle.

Liability: Liability takes into account the probability of the shipment being damaged or stolen, or damaging other adjacent freight.

How Freight Class Affects Quote Prices

This part is simple– The lower your class, the lower the price. An item that is a class 50 will be cheaper to ship than an item that is class 500.

What are NMFC Codes?

Each LTL shipping item has an NMFC code associated with it.  NMFC codes are similar in concept to PLU codes at a grocery store– Every item that could be shipped is assigned a code.  For example, hardwood flooring may be assigned NMFC #37860, whereas corrugated boxes may be assigned NMFC #29250.  These codes can be accessed via an NMFC database, which is constantly being updated.  Let a FreightPro know if you need help finding the correct NMFC code for your product, as this is step 1 in determining your freight class. The NMFC code will tell you how to class your item.  Some items have a permanent class, whereas others could be classed based on density, packaging, value, or other factors. An item that is density-based means that the freight’s density will determine the class. For example, Machinery may fit under NMFC #133300, which the database says is a density-based code. If you’re shipping machinery, you’ll need to first determine the item’s density (based on weight, dimensions and pallet count), and will then be able to calculate a freight class. With most density-based classes, a lower density means a higher class, and a higher density means a lower class. Using our example, let’s say we have 2 machines on standard-sized pallets with the same dimensions (48”x40”x48”). Machine #1 weighs 1000 lbs, and Machine #2 weighs 500 lbs. This means that Machine #1 is more dense than Machine #2, giving it a lower freight class and (usually!) a cheaper price. On the other hand, some shipping items have a permanent class regardless of their size or weight. An example of a fixed-class item would be a transmission. A transmission’s NMFC code is 19940, which classes at 85 no matter the size, weight, or packaging.  There may also be NMFC codes that class based on how an item is packaged, its value, or any other product characteristic.  The only way to know for sure is to get your freight broker to help you look up your item in the NMFC database.

Finding Your Correct Freight Class

We’ve covered what a shipping class is, as well as how it affects the cost of your freight shipping, so let’s finish up with how to find the correct class for your freight. Many carriers and brokers offer a freight class calculator that will determine the density and estimated class. These tools are convenient for casual shippers, but keep in mind that they offer only “estimated” classes. If you’re looking to avoid freight reclasses, the only way to ensure  your class is to confirm your freight class using the correct NMFC code, and making sure it is visible and legible on the BOL used at the time of pickup. Your freight broker can you help you do this, as they should have access to the NMFC database. As you can see, there’s a lot to say about class, but if you do have questions, your freight broker will be able to help you find the correct class for your shipment. In conclusion, here are a few classing tips to keep your shipping simple and easy.

Freight Class Tips & Tricks

  • ALWAYS include the NFMC code on the BOL so the carrier can see it.
  • ALWAYS include the freight description on the BOL to the best of your ability. Something labeled “shipping item” is much more likely to be re-classed, as the carrier has no idea what the freight is and therefore no idea what class is correct.
  • Class calculators can give the exact density of a shipment, however their classes are always estimates.  Not all items have density-based classes!
  • Be aware of carrier habits. All carriers are not created equal and some are harder on re-classes and inspections than others. Know the limitations of the carriers you’ll be using.
  • BE HONEST. Resist the urge to cheat on your freight class to fool the shipping companies. In the long run (like Vegas) the house always wins and you’ll end up paying penalties for constant re-classes.
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Shipping Alcohol: The Rise of Craft Breweries

Craft brewing has quickly grown from a cottage industry to a multimillion-dollar commerce segment that seems poised to bring down, or at least challenge, the giants in a well-established market. Brewers spring up all the time, and the Brewers Association notes that most Americans find themselves living within 10 miles of a craft brewer. That’s fairly amazing when you consider that just six years ago, in 2012, two companies produced 90 percent of America’s beer.

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Shipping Lithium Batteries: What Are the Risks & How Can You Ship Them

From your laptop and cell phone to your child’s favorite toys, lithium batteries have become a ubiquitous source of power for modern life. Unfortunately, these rechargeable batteries have some serious flaws that go beyond lifespan or the time it takes to recharge them. As recent episodes with the Samsung Note 7 phone (as well as the so-called hoverboards, e-cigarettes, and others) brought to light, lithium batteries, in the right circumstances, can combust.

Continue ReadingShipping Lithium Batteries: What Are the Risks & How Can You Ship Them

5 ways to know if you're a freight broker

ELD Mandate for Carriers and its Effects

This is the first section of a two-part blog post on the ELD mandate and its effects on the transportation industry. Recently the FMCSA rolled out the nationwide ELD mandate for commercial carriers and transporters. There are many questions and concerns on how this will affect the nation’s supply chains. Will it increase transit times?  Will it decrease the amount of available equipment?  Will it increase the cost of transporting freight?  Will I make less money as a carrier or driver? Are these the right questions to be asking? The only correct answer is that these are all valid questions surrounding the recent introduction of the ELD mandate. As with most mandates, you’re not going to make everyone happy, and only you can decide which side of the fence you’re on. However, in order to make that decision you have to ask yourself if you understand it fully? I’ll do my best to explain the mandate without being too lengthy or adding bias (at least in this portion) in order to help guide your decision. 1) What is an ELD? ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device. It is a small onboard computer added to the cab or instrument panel of a tractor or truck that collects data. There have been several variations of these type of devices over the years, dating as far back as the 1980s. They are known as AOBRD (Automatic On-Board Recording Device), and EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder), but these will eventually be phased out over the next 2 years and all carriers will be required to use an ELD. 2) What does it do? The typical device is a monitoring tool that ties together three main components of data about from the truck. The first is that it monitors the truck’s movements through a GPS signal. The second is that it records engine data, such as running time and speed. The third and final component is the driver entry piece, this is where he or she will log trip details and notes. Every device manufacturer offers different features on their particular, some more than others, but ultimately these are the 3 required features from the FMCSA to be considered compliant. 3) How is it monitored and regulated? The data is captured and combined into a report that can be extracted and audited by local, state, and federal authorities to ensure the driver is staying within the legal limits of driver time and operation. The report is generated in a digital format or printed copy. If the carrier is is found without an approved ELD in the truck or the ELD shows the driver is in violation of the legal operating hours it will result in fines, shutdowns, and even CDL/authority suspension or revocation depending on the degree of the violation. There are a handful of exceptions where ELD monitoring is not required, the most common two are personal conveyance moves (PCM) and yard moves. A PCM basically means driving back and forth between home and the carrier’s terminal or office, and yard moves are basically the movement of equipment on or in areas that are restricted or considered private property and must be clearly marked with signs. Both of these exceptions have limitations and more specific language as to their definition, so make sure you do your research if you feel these may apply to your situation. 4) Why is this happening? The ELD mandate is a congressionally mandated rule as part the MAP 21 Act that was signed into law in 2012. The ELD mandate itself was put into place to create a safer work environment for drivers and reducing unsafe driving practices. The previous methods, which were mainly done through manually written log books, were fraught with fraud and manipulation. Introducing the ELD created a better and more accurate way to collect, monitor, and share data, without the risk of tampering from individuals. 5) What is the timeline surrounding the mandate? There are two important dates surrounding the mandate. The first was December 18, 2017, this signaled the beginning date of compliance, meaning it is now required to have an ELD device installed and activated on the truck. However, the violations will only result in fines. The second and more critical date is April 1, 2018, and the reason is that any carrier found without an approved ELD and functioning ELD on board will be shutdown until one can be installed and working. I felt these are the five most important categories to address when trying to explain the ELD Mandate, but there are many levels to this mandate to consider which I did not address. If you want to learn more about the both the ELD Mandate and MAP 21 we encourage you to click the links below: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/ I’ll discuss some of the further implications of these changes from a freight broker’s perspective in a subsequent blog post next week.  

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