An Introduction to Freight Classes

June 27, 2016 at 12:32 PMPartnerShip
ALT TEXT FOR IMAGEThe first time I was introduced to the concept of a freight class was an eye-opener.  At the time, I was responsible for getting all trade show materials to the show site, including product samples, marketing collateral, and trade show booth. The company where I worked had a 100,000 sf warehouse, trucks inbound and outbound all week long, and a guy who managed the warehouse. He was the one that shipped our trade show materials. 

When we outgrew our booth and needed a new one, we worked with a local trade show exhibit company and had them ship our materials to the show. When our freight invoice arrived after the show, I was floored! It was considerably more than I was used to paying. That was when I learned about freight classes. The warehouse guy always shipped our trade show exhibit Class 50, which is not the correct freight class. It should have been shipped Class 125, which the trade show company did, resulting in higher shipping charges. My lesson: freight class impacts cost.

Freight class refers to the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and is the category of your freight as defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). Your shipment’s freight class determines the carrier’s shipping charges and refers to the size, value and difficulty of transporting your freight.

Freight classes are designed to standardize pricing, regardless of what carriers, warehouses and brokers with which you work and is determined by weight, length and height, density, stowability, ease of handling, value and liability. There are 18 classes into which a shipment may fall; the lower the product class, the lower the rate per pound. Class 50 rates are the least expensive and Class 500 rates are the most expensive.   

There is a lot of math that goes into freight class calculations (which we will not cover in depth) but here are some considerations that go into determining your shipment’s class:

  1. Density: The more compact a product is, based on weight, the less space it will take up in a truck. Bricks are much more dense than ping pong balls, so they take up significantly less room per pound and result in a lower freight classification.
  2. Stowability: Most freight stows well, but some items cannot be loaded together, like food and chemicals. Hazardous materials and oversize items also impact stowability.
  3. Handling: Freight is usually loaded with mechanical equipment and creates no handling issues, but weight, shape, fragility or hazardous properties do require special handling.
  4. Liability: Liability is determined by the probability of theft or damage, or damage to adjacent freight. Dynamite has a high amount of liability while books do not.

Here are some examples of products by freight class:

It is very important to understand freight classes and ship your materials correctly. Incorrectly classifying your freight can results in additional costs, as freight carriers have the right to inspect and reclassify your shipment. If that happens, guess who pays? You do. It can also slow delivery of your freight and will cause unneeded headaches.

The bottom line: always correctly identify and classify your freight.

Freight classes can be complex and confusing. For expert assistance on determining your shipment’s freight class, contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or find your freight class online. The freight experts at PartnerShip are here to help!

The Early History of Semi-Trucks

June 15, 2016 at 8:16 AMPartnerShip
The Early History of Semi TrucksWe see hundreds of trucks on the road every single day. They not only help us live our modern life, but have contributed to the economic prosperity of the country, so we wanted to take a short look back at the very important history of trucks. 

People have used truck-like vehicles to transport goods and move materials for centuries, but before the invention of the mechanical engine, they were often drawn by pack animals. In fact, the definition of the word “truck” has evolved from “a cart for carrying heavy loads” to the more modern “motor vehicle for carrying heavy loads.”

Before motor trucks, most goods were transported by railroads, with local transportation needs met by “trucks” drawn by pack animals, which had no rival until self-propelled steam-powered vehicles began emerging in the late eighteenth century. The motor truck concept languished until the invention of the internal combustion engine in the middle of the nineteenth century boosted its potential.

Cleveland horseless carriage maker Alexander Winton is widely credited with inventing the semi-truck in 1898, and sold his first manufactured semi-truck in 1899. When Winton sold its first cars in 1898, it created the need for the cars to be delivered to their buyers, which led to the concept of the semi-truck to deliver his manufactured vehicles.

In 1904, only about 700 large trucks rumbled on the roads in the United States but that number skyrocketed to nearly 25,000 in 1914. Motor trucks at the time were not built for comfort but for utility. They rode on solid rubber wheels with mechanical brake systems, and could only travel short distances at low speeds, often over rough and bumpy unpaved roads. The invention of pneumatic tires and hydraulic brakes helped make early trucks a more useful vehicle.

The semi-truck population exploded in 1917 thanks to improved roads and the Federal Highway Act, which created a 3.2-million-mile national road system. In 1924, the number of trucks on the road would be 416,569; a 1,560% increase from just ten years earlier.

The 1940s and 1950s saw the rise of the automobile and America’s population shift from the city to the suburb. The “Federal-Aid Highway Act” of 1956 authorized the construction of a 41,000-mile network of interstate highways. These two changes cemented the semi-truck as a part of daily life because more goods had to be shipped longer distances, which was made easy by the new system of interstate highways.

Some key dates in the evolution of the semi-truck:

1898 - Alexander Winton invents the semi-truck

1914 - A semi-trailer used to transport boats created; used for other cargo as well

1916 – Mack introduces the AC, signaling the end of open cab trucks

1934 - Navistar builds the first tandem axle, six-wheel truck

1942 - Freightliner introduces the first all-aluminum cab

1953 - Freightliner creates the first overhead sleeper cab

1959 – The first cab-over-engine truck is introduced

As the truck has evolved, so has its engine. The first trucks (carts, really) were powered by horses or human. Then came steam-powered trucks. Electric trucks were popular in the late-19th and early 20th century, until the internal combustion engine and cheap gasoline led to a decline in their use. Direct-injection turbo-charged diesel engines became standard during the 1950s as trucks began the conversion from standard gasoline engines.

What will the semi-truck of the future be like? Check out this post!

PartnerShip is proud to be based in the birthplace of the semi-truck, Cleveland, OH! Next time you need a semi-truck to move your finished goods or inbound raw materials, give us a call at 800-599-2902 or request a quote. The freight shipping experts at PartnerShip are here to lend a helping hand!