What is LTL?
Unsure if you have a freight shipment? Best place to start is here. LTL stands for Less than Truckload freight. The size of this kind of freight is between 100 and 20,000 lbs. This weight is about the point at which it's too expensive to ship through your local post office or as the industry calls it, parcel shipping. By using freight shipping you are choosing a more efficient and economical route. Plus it's much easier to have a truck come to you to pick up your shipment than you trying to get the heavy item to the shipper. Just imagine trying to bring your fridge to the local post office to ship. Some other examples of LTL freight are: blanket-wrapped furniture, palletized or crated appliances, motorcycles, and palletized boxes of retail product. If your freight weighs more than 100 lbs and does not fill a semi truck on it's own, than it is likely you need to ship LTL freight. Perishables, however, require a dedicated truck for refrigeration.
What is a NMFC?
So now you know you have LTL Freight, but how do you know what your item is classified as? A freight class refers to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and it is the category of your freight as defined by the NMFC. There are 18 freight classes ranging from 50 (the least expensive class) to 500 (the most expensive class).
Your NMFC number or freight class determines your total shipping charges. It is critical that you know the correct NMFC number in order to receive accurate freight charges and to ensure that the carrier does not re-class your shipment, which could result in a higher shipping charge. No one wants that kind of surprise. Look up your LTL shipment.
What does NOI Stand for?
So you looked through the NMFC classifications and your item doesn't fit into any of the categories. Not to worry, there is a solution! NOI stands for "Not Otherwise Indicated". If you have an item that isn't classified by the National Motor Freight Classification Association (NMFC), then you would be in this category. NOI classed items are typically quoted and processed manually through select freight carriers. We here at FreightCenter.com can manually provide a NOI class rate quote. Need a helpful calculator?
How do I determine my PCF?
So you have your shipment's classification, you are ready to book! But how do you know what freight rate is the correct one? Freight rates are determined by taking into consideration a combination of factors; package dimensions, weight, distance and freight class, as well as your package’s Pounds per Cubic Foot or PCF. The classification you obtained in the last steps and your PCF related closely to each other. In freight terms, a low PCF will result in a higher class rating. In turn, a higher class rating corresponds to a higher cost to ship your freight.
A simple way to think about it is, the more space your freight occupies on a truck or in a container the more costs you will incur for transport. For example, a shipment that works out to 1.31 pound per cubic foot and weighs 100 pounds (Class 300) will be much more expensive to ship than an item that has the same weight but equates to 9.67 pounds per cubic foot (Class 100).
Never guess or estimate dimensions and weights when shipping freight. The most common reason people are surprised by extra charges after the shipment is because they didn't accurately calculate their PCF. Figure out your PCF.
What do I do with a BOL?
So you've determined you have a LTL shipment, and you have your NMFC number, but now that your shipment is booked, what do you do with the paperwork? A Bill of Lading or BOL is standard, vital paperwork providing the carrier and driver with all the pertinent information related to shipping costs and transport information. Think of this paperwork as your shipments travel ticket. It allows for proper billing, proper pick up and delivery. By having this paperwork you are ensuring that your shipment is taken care of. All parties (buyer, seller and carrier) involved should have a copy of the BOL. The FreightCenter BOL confirms your discounted rate with the carrier, which makes it even more important. You wouldn't want to lose your discount because you forgot a piece of paper.