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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Freight Class
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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

Oh, Ship! Understanding LTL Freight Delays

In the shipping world, few things are more frustrating than your shipment being delayed. You’ve either got an angry customer yelling in your ear, or your company’s production is being held up because of a part that has yet to arrive. Either way, for lack of a better word, it sucks. But the first step to easing frustration is understanding the underlying problem behind LTL freight delays and knowing what to expect moving forward. When shipping LTL, delays can happen for a number of reasons and every scenario is unique. However, there are commonalities across the industry. It would take much too long to address every cause for delay in this post, but we’ll tackle the most common reasons freight isn’t delivered on time! Weather: Although weather related LTL freight delays, like all delays, are frustrating, these are the most easily explained and understood. Like the recent catastrophes of Hurricanes Harvey & Irma, natural disasters can wreak havoc regionally, but also have nationwide effects on when you receive your freight. When terminals are shut down because of weather, operations come to a screeching halt. Freight piles up and can cause delays for months after the actual event. Since freight is handled on a first-in, first-out basis, it’s often just a waiting game. LTL Freight Delays   High Freight Volumes: This is a term that gets tossed around a lot. With larger carriers, most of their freight goes through large hubs around the country. For R&L, this might be Wilmington, Ohio, where their headquarters is located. For Central Transport, this is often Chicago, Illinois, where they’re based out of. Though the location of these hubs vary, they all have one thing in common: so much freight passes through there on a daily basis that they can’t move it as fast as it comes in. So their solution is to load this freight on trucks in the order they arrived to the terminal in question, this can cause LTL freight delays. Delivery Appointments: If any shipment has a delivery appointment service added, this always adds at least one day onto the estimated transit time. The reason for this is that the appointment clerk at the terminal won’t schedule appointments with the consignee until they confirm that the freight is actually, physically at the destination terminal. In some cases, like when freight is delivering to a residence, appointments are always required. Although a delayed shipment is never not frustrating, we at FreightPros are always striving to make your lives easier. Our team runs a Delivery Report daily to check on shipments that are running late and follow-up with carriers to see why. We then do everything in our power to get shipments delivered as quickly as possible! Our goal is to provide a quality freight experience, and education is the first step to achieving that!

Missed Freight Pickups

That time my freight pickup was missed. Remember that moment when you needed to get to the store before it closed, but just couldn’t make it in time? It’s not fun for anyone but sometimes things happen in life that are just out of our control. Unfortunately, it’s not much different in the world of freight and freight pickup issues. Freight Pickup Frustration Missed freight pickups are especially common on the LTL side of this industry and there could be a multitude of reasons as to why. The most common reasons are: driver tardiness, driver / dispatch miscommunications or simply the truck was filled with freight sooner than expected. Although they can plan their route flawlessly before leaving their terminal, a driver can never fully plan for what the road has in store for them. Dispatch may call the driver while they are on their current route asking them to make a few more stops along the way, thus causing a delay in the pickup of other shipments scheduled for later that day. When pickups are missed, we all lose a little. Your freight isn’t moving, the carrier has to try again another day, and depending on your broker, there’s a lot of back-end work going on as well. At FreightPros it’s not so much just about the missed pick up, but more importantly, it’s about what happens next and how we deliver a quality freight experience to our customers. We run a PRO report every morning to find out which LTL shipments from the previous day did not get assigned a PRO (also known as a tracking number). From there, our operations team will reach out regarding all shipments that have not been assigned a PRO to find out why it missed pickup. If the shipment misses pickup for reasons such as: they were told “there was no freight” or because the packaging was an issue, we will reach out to the customer to try to resolve the issue. If it was purely because the carrier could not make it to the location in time or the truck was full we will go ahead and put the shipment back on the carrier’s schedule for pick up. When your freight misses pickup there is no need to panic, we will get that shipment back on board for you the following business day. If ever you have a time sensitive shipment, I do highly suggest you express urgency when discussing shipment details with your freight provider, as this will allow them to find an option that best suits your needs.

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