Freight Shipping Classifications

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Freight shipping heavy materials, such as the logs pictured, has requirements that must be followed for safe transport

When you have heavy materials that must be shipped to various locations, there’s a lot of factors to consider. If your logistics are outsourced to a private shipping company or even a well-known carrier, your shipments are often going to have fees and regulations that are going to apply to them. Lighter loads are often classified as Less-Than-Truckload (LTL), although this is often determined more by the size of the transport vehicle than it is the size and weight of the commodities being shipped. For full truckloads, they too have their own classifications and regulations they have to adhere to, so it’s important to know what you have to do in order to have your items shipped properly.

A helpful standard that many shipping companies use is the National Motor Freight Classification established by the non-profit organization NMFTA. The are 18 classifications the NMFC uses from 50 to 500, and these are all based on the measurements, weight, and in some cases the content of the shipment. Companies will often base their rates depending on the classification and the distance traveled, or other fees or inspections the freight may have to go through. There is a calculator at where you can input the measurements of your items and find out the classification.

In addition to having classifications on items being shipped, shipping companies have to comply with regulations set forth by the Department Of Transportation for handling various shipments. The DOT sets restrictions on trucks based on size and the weight they’re hauling, as well as the kind of axles they have. This federal department often monitors trucks traveling the interstate highways but also works with the state and local governments. Transport companies also have to be sure that the items they’re hauling do not violate the hazardous material regulations of the DOT, and that they can be shipped legally and safely.

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