Shipping guide: freight classes and rates
When it comes to shipping your product to your customers, you need to know your product's “class” or how your product is defined by the transportation industry.
Freight classification, weight, density and distance
In the world of shipping, different types of products—from chemicals to machine parts to toaster ovens—are defined according to their makeup. Each product definition is called a classification.
The purpose of a classification is to determine the relative transportability of everything that moves in commerce. Classifications are based on the weight, density, stowability and handling characteristics of products. There are 18 possible classifications. The classifications are numeric from 50 to 500.
The class of your product plays a big role in calculating how much you will be charged for shipping it. Ping pong balls, for example, are class 500 (the most-expensive class) because of their lack of density. Because they are not very dense, you can fill an entire trailer with ping pong balls without loading much weight on the trailer.
Because rates are partially based on weight and density, the rate per hundred pounds for transporting ping pong balls is higher than for, say, machine parts, which are heavy but take up less space.
We can help you determine your product's freight class.
Along with a product's classification, rates are based on the distance a shipment is moving, the shipment's weight, and the shipment's density.
You need to calculate a shipment's density to properly describe your goods on the bill of lading. To determine density, divide the total weight of the shipment by the total cubic feet. For convenience, use our density calculator.
Most less-than-truckload rates are stated as a rate per hundred pounds, or per hundredweight. Rates are structured so that as the weight of your shipment increases, the rate per hundred pounds decreases.
Example: A product weighing 100 pounds may cost $41.00 per hundredweight, while 500 pounds of the same product going to the same destination may only cost $35 per hundredweight. However, the total charges for the 500-pound shipment are higher (1 X $41=$41, 5 X$35=$175).
For light shipments, most providers state a minimum charge.
The sample rate table below illustrates rates between two ZIP codes. Weight breaks are indicated across the top. The classes are listed down the left side.
Note in the sample how the rates increase as the class goes up. Also note how the rates decrease as the weight break increases. There is a similar rate table for every origin/designation ZIP code combination that a transportation provider serves.
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