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How to Identify Your Freight Class: A Quick Guide

colorful freights at a port

In logistics and transportation, there’s a critical element that affects shipping costs and strategies: freight class. This often-overlooked measurement plays a pivotal role in determining the price of shipping goods across various carriers and businesses in Less Than Truckload (LTL) freight.

What is Freight Class?

Freight class, as defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), standardizes pricing in the LTL freight sector. Essentially, it’s a system that categorizes different types of products or commodities based on their characteristics and assigns them a specific freight class number. This number ranges between 60 and 400, with lower numbers representing heavier, denser items, and higher numbers indicating lighter, bulkier, or more delicate items.

Calculating Freight Density

The process of calculating freight density is a crucial step in determining its freight class. Here’s a simplified guide to this calculation:

  1. Measure the length, width, and height of the freight in inches, including packaging.
  2. Multiply these dimensions to obtain the cubic inches.
  3. Divide the cubic inches by 1,728 (the cubic inches in a cubic foot) to convert to cubic feet.
  4. Divide the weight of the freight in pounds by the cubic feet calculated in the previous step. This gives you the density of the freight.

In equation form: Density = Weight (lbs) / Volume (cubic feet)

Factors Influencing Freight Class

Several factors play a role in determining a product’s freight class. Understanding these factors can provide insights into how the classification system operates:

1. Commodity and Density: While some commodities have pre-defined freight classes, others are density-based. Density is determined by the ratio of the total cubic feet to the total weight in pounds. Generally, a lower density corresponds to a higher freight class. This means that lightweight items that occupy a lot of space might end up with a higher class and, subsequently, a higher shipping cost.

2. Stowability: Stowing freight efficiently is essential for optimizing transportation resources. Freight that’s difficult to load due to its weight, size, shape, or regulatory restrictions may incur a higher freight class. Items that cannot be loaded with other goods due to safety concerns are also assigned a higher class.

3. Handling: Freight goes through various handling checkpoints during its journey. Items that require special handling due to their fragility, weight, shape, or hazardous nature might be classified as a higher freight class. This classification accounts for the extra care and resources needed to transport such items safely.

4. Liability: The likelihood of theft, damage, or harm to other freight or workers is an important consideration. Freight that poses higher liability risks, such as perishable items or hazardous materials, tends to have a higher assigned class due to the increased responsibility and potential costs associated with their transportation.

Unveiling the Impact

These factors create a comprehensive classification system that ensures fair pricing and efficient handling of various types of cargo. By comprehending the nuances of freight class, shippers can make informed decisions about packaging, shipping methods, and cost-effective strategies to optimize their supply chain.

So, the next time you’re shipping goods, remember that beyond weight and size, it’s also commodity characteristics, stowability, handling requirements, and liability considerations that determine your freight class. Unlocking the secrets of this classification system could potentially lead to more streamlined shipping processes and enhanced cost savings for your business.

For expert guidance and support in mastering freight shipping, connect with us at US Cargo Link.

5 Keys to Successful Supply Chain and Logistics Management

a bustling port nestled along the coastline, where there's a multitude of meticulously stacked freight containers

In today’s fast-paced business world, logistics management stands as a critical and complex aspect of supply chain operations. Companies must continuously adapt to ever-changing demands and challenges to ensure the efficient movement of goods from manufacturers to consumers. Here are 5 key elements that ensure smooth logistics activities:

1. Planning:

Logistics planning serves as the backbone of a smooth supply chain operation. The fluctuating nature of supply and demand in the market requires constant coordination and organization. Warehouses and storage units act as crucial components to maintain a steady supply of goods. Proper logistics planning ensures timely delivery and effective handling of products, contributing to a healthy supply chain.

2. Packaging:

Packaging/unitization plays a pivotal role in preserving product quality and ensuring safe transport. The design, materials, and branding of packaging are carefully strategized to create a positive consumer experience. Unitization assists in optimizing storage and transportation by bundling goods into easily transportable shapes. The goal is to fit products into a cuboid shape, which helps streamline the logistics process.

3. Inventory Control:

Inventory management is a vital element in logistics management, playing a critical role in controlling the flow of goods and products going in and out of warehouses. It involves predicting consumer demand by analyzing sales data and utilizing statistical tools to ensure optimal inventory levels. Effective inventory management enables businesses to avoid stockouts and oversupply. A well-managed inventory system enables businesses to optimize their supply chain and maintain healthy profit margins.

4. Transportation:

Transportation is a major cost driver in logistics management, making it essential to find fast and cost-effective methods for product delivery. Different products require various transportation modes, ranging from road vehicles to air transport. In the era of e-commerce, customers expect rapid and reliable deliveries, underscoring the need for transparent and efficient transportation services.

5. Information Management:

Data-driven logistics is the future of the industry. Effective IT management systems throughout the supply chain enable businesses to enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and meet customer demands accurately. From inventory flow, procurement or auditing to warehouses and transportation, data analysis supports strategic decision-making and helps achieve business goals.

The ever-evolving landscape of supply chain management demands a comprehensive understanding of logistics management. By focusing on the critical components of planning, packaging, inventory control, transportation, and information management, businesses can build a strong foundation for efficient supply chain operations. A well-executed logistics strategy empowers companies to stay ahead of the curve, reduce costs, and deliver exceptional customer satisfaction, all essential elements for sustainable success in the dynamic world of modern business.

Ready to optimize your supply chain and streamline your logistics operations? Choose US Cargo Link! Partner with us and get seamless, cost-effective, and customized solutions for all your logistics needs. Contact us today and let’s unlock the full potential of your supply chain together.

IoT – Hit or miss?

As discussed in our recent blog IoT and the 4th Industrial Revolution, the transportation industry is the second- largest segment investing in the IoT (internet of things). The question now is, are these new mobile devices and technology advances helping prove their ROI?Banker, Cunnane, and Reiser recently published an article discussing how some of these technologies sound like great ideas, but create no real ROI. They describe it as “ideas that have much hype, but no real sense of actual profit”.

UniversalIoT can help in so many different ways, but what we really need to focus on are the ways it can impact how carriers, shippers, 3pl, and freight brokers will approach business moving forward. It’s all about the dollar signs. All the new “shiny” technology may sound exciting, but if the cost is more than it’s worth, what’s the point? What’s the point of looking smart if you go broke in the process?

Many products including AI, Blockchain, delivery by drone, and autonomous vehicles sound very impressive, but we need to dig deeper as Jeff Berman suggests.

Recent studies have shown that drone logistics is less than 5 years away from becoming a reality. The global drone logistic market is listed as a million US dollar value in 2019 and in 2025 as stated by Rohit. However, with winds, weather, algorithm, and outside error probabilities, the drone just looks promising. Promising meaning high in performance, but still too young to verify all the benefits as suggested by ARC’s 2020 Supply Chain Technology Maturity Curve.

Although we anticipate the IoT can make our lives much easier in the logistics world, we must truly evaluate weather we’ll receive a profit from these pricey technologies and in the meantime continue to fully utilize the traditional forms of business + impeccable customer service that has gotten us to where we are today in logistics.


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We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we an fulfill your logistics needs!

The International Chamber of Shipping Wants Zero-Carbon Ships by 2030 While TuSimple Is Already Ahead of the Game

Last month, the International Chamber of Shipping said they are in the process of creating a nongovernmental organization to tackle carbon emissions within the shipping industry funded by $5 billion from shipping companies over a decade and continues to seek additional stakeholders’ participation.

“[It] is critical to accelerate the R&D effort required to decarbonize the shipping sector and to spur the development of commercially viable zero-carbon ships by the early 2030s.” – The International Chamber of Shipping

The organization to be known as the International Maritime Research and Development Board will be overseen by the member countries of the U.N. maritime agency and financed by shipping companies through a mandatory contribution of $2 per metric ton of marine fuel. 

While the shipping industry contributes only about 2% of global greenhouse gases, it accounts for 20% of greenhouse gases in the United States alone.  The International Chamber of Shipping hope to use the funds to “spur the development of commercially viable zero-carbon ships by early 2030.  More details to follow when the governments discuss the shipping industry’s proposal when the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meets in London in March. 

In the meantime, let’s talk about an up-and-coming trucking company that has been making headway since its inception about 4 ½ years ago. A San Diego-based automated trucking company, TuSimple seems to be on everyone’s lips. Just last September, the company announced that their new investments bring their total funding to a whopping $298 million.  Their list of investors includes UPS, CDH investments (a Chinese venture capitalist), Lavender Hill Capital (investment firm), and Mando Corp. (a South Korean company).  They’ve been since utilizing a new night vision-capable camera and have been running a pilot with USPS, running round trips between Dallas and Phoenix.

This past December, TuSimple announced that its self-driving technology has reduced fuel consumption for trips by at least 10%.  TuSimple has level 4 autonomous trucks which SAE international has defined as a truck that can drive itself under certain conditions without any driver input or backup assistance.  Initial research and findings have started to suggest that TuSimple trucks will significantly reduce the environmental impact of heavy-duty trucking.  Currently, they have 18 contracted customers and make between 13-19 runs a day in Arizona with goals to be driverless by 2021.  In terms of decarbonizing the shipping sector and fighting the ever-growing driver shortage—TuSimple is way ahead of its game.


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We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we an fulfill your logistics needs!

Top 3 Logistic Trends for 2020

2020 is here and now it’s more appropriate than ever to study up on the most popular trends to prepare for possible new challenges within the new year.  We are currently in a highly transformative era in which experts are dubbing, “The 4th Industrial Revolution”.  Technology is advancing in an exponential rate and businesses are shifting priorities to keep up with the competition and the ever changing landscape of this industry.  In this post, we will explore the top 3 logistic trends for 2020.

#1 Sustainability and Visibility

More and more logistics companies are integrating sustainability efforts into their overall strategy.  Climate change has become a popular public concern, and everyone wants to do their part especially since the logistics industry plays a large part in greenhouse gas contributions right next to energy/power plants.  The idea of “going green” has embedded not only the minds of consumers, but political, economic, and financial leaders as well.  While green logistics is ideal, it is not an easy feat.  Not everyone has the resources to become net zero carbon which is why visibility and sustainability go together in this trend.  Logistics companies are providing more visibility in their operations so everyone—inside the company, and out—has access to information that would reveal issues that may otherwise remain hidden.  Things like empty miles, dwell time, trackability, etc. 

Related articles: The Impact of Weather and Climate on Logistics; Visibility is the Master Key to Solve Most Challenges in Logistics.

#2 Utilization of Advanced Technology

Technology has been advancing at an exponential rate.  We already have drones and self-driving semitrucks making deliveries.  Soon, everything that we can automate and digitalize will be automated and digitalized.  Robots are becoming more intelligent.  Not only can they perform simple tasks, but they now have the capabilities to learn, recognize patterns, make decisions, and adapting independently.  The developments on artificial intelligence (AI) are particularly important in the logistics industry because eventually, it’ll become and important tool for efficiency.  It will be no surprise to us when AI dramatically influences the transport industry and change the traditional processes of freight forwarding. 

Related articles: Advancement in Logistics: Technology vs Humans

#3 Managing Customer Expectations and Partnerships

With the implementation of advanced technology, many companies will be looking for ways to minimize freight costs while still being efficient in their operations.  In 2020, companies will be seeking out effective partnerships that can help reduce costs, minimize risks associated with shipping cargo, decrease delays in delivery, and enhance customer value and satisfaction.  Customer expectations will be shifting due to the advancement of technology.  Not only will customers become data-enabled but they will also be wanting to associate themselves with a business that aligns with their individual ideals.  Catch-all solutions will be obsolete, and companies would have to rely on transparency and technology to give them that competitive edge. 

Related articles: What’s the Difference Between Customer Experience and Customer Expectations?; Is Customer Experience Growing in its Importance in Differentiating Brands?


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We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we an fulfill your logistics needs!

Santa Claus: The O.G. of One-Day Shipping & Master of Sustainability

Ho, ho, ho, the holidays are here!  Every year, Santa the OG one-day shipper, delivers billions of presents to all the good children in the entire world in one single night. 

Upholding a track record of 100% on-time deliveries, maintaining a global distribution channel that can span the world in one night, and a keeping committed workforce with zero turnover is not easy!  In order to do it all, Santa’s little helpers must produce over six million presents every day leading up to big holiday to have an inventory large enough to deliver the ~2.5 billion children at the end of the year.  This makes the North Pole home of the most optimized warehouse in the world.  A couple of decades ago, things may have been slightly easier for Santa’s elves, but nowadays they must produce on a make-to-stock basis because a lot of things kids want would be obsolete by next year.  Through a demand-driven supply network, Santa still takes orders from children sitting on his lap as last-minute as Christmas Eve!  He also takes orders by mail and even electronically!  He has a Twitter account (@Santa) and an email address (santa@santaclaus.com) so he’s more accessible than ever before!  Still, he has always delivered with 100% satisfaction often delivering even more than expected.

Considering all the differing time zones, Santa actually has closer to 31 hours to complete his deliveries rather than 24 hours.  He must visit 2.2 million homes an hour traveling over 3,000 times faster than the speed of sound.  His magical sleigh is supped up to carry over 2 million tons assuming all the gifts are of the same size and weight (until he takes it out of his magical sack, of course).  Since it is pulled by a herd of flying reindeer, it is safe to say Santa is also the master of sustainable transportation; leaving a very low carbon footprint throughout all these years.  Santa is also on top of visibility allowing all curious minds on Earth to track his movements in real-time through a GPS tracking device which could be accessed here.

Without Santa Claus, the holidays would be so different. It would take 400,000 trucks, 5,000 of the largest airplanes, and the power to make time stand still in order to deliver presents to every child in one night.  We are so lucky for Saint Nick especially considering we just pay him in milk, cookies, and reindeer treats.

Happy Holidays!!

 

via GIPHY


Don’t forget to sign up for our e-newsletter so you can get the best of our blog on a monthly basis straight to your inbox!.

We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we can fulfill your logistic needs!

Holiday Returns to Set New Record in 2019?

‘Tis the season in more ways than one!  The holidays are upon us and it is no secret that holidays mean gifts, purchases, and a whirlwind of intertwining logistic solutions.  However, one thing often overlooked are the rate of returns during this time of year. 

On November 4th, UPS predicted that this year’s holiday returns will peak at 1.9 million packages on January 2nd, an estimated increase of 26% compared to last year.  This includes the forecasted 1.6 million returns per day the week before Christmas Day because of retail promotions that encourage shoppers to buy gifts early.  USPS is also anticipating almost 2.5 billion pieces of first-class mail (e.g. holiday greeting cards) to be processed during the week of December 16th.

Nowadays, 73% of shoppers are influenced by the return experience of a brand.  Based on their return experience, determines on whether or not they would make another purchase from that company in the future.  Now, more than ever, convenient return policies are in high demand and gives retailers a competitive edge in ecommerce. 

“We estimate UPS will deliver more than 32 million packages per day in the U.S. and around the world, an increase of more than 50% over our regular daily volume,” said Matthew O’Connor, UPS senior manager for public relations.

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/holiday-season-returns-will-set-record-ups-predicts

USPS is already making Sunday deliveries in select major cities and will expand that service to other areas with high package volumes in anticipation of delivering an upward of 800 packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  USPS has also announced that for an additional fee, it would make deliveries in select locations on Christmas Day.

Experts suggests that regardless of tariffs, our economy is still growing.  Most likely, Christmas in 2019 will be better than last years.  So, buckle up, logistics experts and providers!  It’s going to be one bustling holiday season!


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We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we can fulfill your logistic needs!

Top 3 Tips to Keep up with Holiday Demands

The busiest season in logistics is undoubtedly during the holidays.  It requires a lot of planning and attention to detail.  If you don’t already have a game plan, it may already be too late as inventories increase as early as August in anticipation for the end-of-the-year bustle.  In this blog, we’ll cover the top 3 tips to keep up with holiday demands.

Tip #1 – Take the Initiative and be Proactive

Every year, the average consumer spends around $800 for gifts, shopping as early as October.  Companies must be in constant communication with their carriers as they will be in high demand over the next few weeks. In 2013, Amazon sold more products than they initially anticipated, making UPS, Fed-Ex, and other partners struggle to keep up with the demands.  In fact, many packages that year did not make it in time.  UPS and FedEx actually deal with a lot of outside carriers prior to the holidays for extra transportation support which is why communication and reassuring capacity concerns are being addressed is so crucial during this time. 

Tip #2 – Go over Last Year’s Results

Re-familiarize yourself with last year’s numbers and recognize all the wins and losses from that year.  Have a meeting with your team to go over what went well, and what could’ve been done better to avoid making the same mistakes this year.

Tip #3 – Embrace the Chaos

While it is important to always have a plan B, C, and D during the holidays, recognize that operations aren’t ever going to be perfect during this time of year.  You can always set deadlines earlier and plan for increased staffing needs to compensate for any foreseeable delays but, things are going to be hectic! All that will be in your realm of control is to be prepared, plan well, and stay flexible. 


Don’t forget to sign up for our e-newsletter so you can get the best of our blog on a monthly basis straight to your inbox!.

We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we can fulfill your logistic needs!

10 Interesting Facts about the Holiday Season

#1

December 2 is the busiest anticipated shipping day with logistic services handling an upwards of 85 million holiday packages and that’s not including the 2.5 billion pieces of just holiday greeting cards that USPS handle on an annual basis for just the week of December 16th.

#2

53.8% people admit starting their holiday shopping before November with 13% starting as early as before September!  However, the majority (39%) does their holiday shopping during the month of November and up to 4% wait til last minute, shopping on Christmas Eve.

#3

Foot traffic on Black Friday has been slowly decreasing since 2012 with more and more people preferring to do their holiday shopping online.  This year’s Cyber Monday broke records with shoppers spending $9.2 billion online. (Up 17% from 2018.)

#4

Retailers can hire up to 780 thousand seasonal employees and the average person spends around $800 on holiday shopping.

#5

The “golden hours of retail” during Black Friday/Cyber Monday are from 10pm to 2am. During these hours, stores can generate up to 30% of the day’s revenue.

#6

Black Friday deals can pull up to a total of $58 billion a year. For some retailers, the holiday season can make up 25-40% of their total industry sales.

#7

25% of all online traffic on Black Friday come from smart phones.  45% of this demographic are 18-24 year old.

#8

The top 3 reasons why people are starting to prefer doing their shopping online than in stores are: 24-hour shopping convenience (35.1%); easier to compare prices (33.1%); and free shipping offer (31.5%).

#9

Trucks travel an average of 500 million miles during the holidays— to put it in perspective, the distance between the Earth and Jupiter is 483 million miles!

#10

  56% of Americans receive unwanted gifts during the holidays which leads up to 36% returning the unwanted gifts.  The economic impact of returned goods totals over $100 billion with the costs encompassing the labor of collecting, scanning, sorting, crediting the stores, and invoicing vendors.  


Don’t forget to sign up for our e-newsletter so you can get the best of our blog on a monthly basis straight to your inbox!.

We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we can fulfill your logistic needs!

How to Choose Between LCL and FCL?

When shipping overseas, you have a choice between shipping a full container load (FCL) or less than container load (LCL). Choosing between the two sometimes may not be as clear-cut as one may assume.  In this blog, we will discuss the difference between the two, pros and cons, and how to choose the best method for your load. 

Of course, the best method always depends on the size and volume of the load.  LCL is a method of shipping where multiple shipments are put into one shared container so businesses shipping in smaller volumes can opt for this instead of renting an entire container.  It can, in most cases, be the cheaper shipping option.

FCL is renting out an entire container and letting your products have exclusive rights to it.  The smallest container being 20ft which can carry up to 25-28 cbm or 8 large pallets/16 small pallets.  It is usually when the load is around this size that most people have a hard time deciding whether to ship LCL or FCL. 

Pros and Cons:

LCL is more expensive per cbm but it doesn’t mean it won’t be cheaper when appropriate.  Only when your load is close to an FCL capacity (25 cbm) that you may decide that it’d be easier to ship in FCL even if you don’t use the entire container.  With FCL, you need to ship a certain volume, so if the volume is close to being viable, shipping FCL may be cheaper than LCL.  LCL shipping is more flexible though, so it’s a great method for start-up companies or small businesses.

With FCL, there is a lot less handling.  FCL shipments are loaded into a container by your supplier where it remains sealed until it reaches its destination (unless it gets stopped by customs.)  This means very minimal opportunities for damage whilst in transit.  This makes this method optimal for fragile loads.  LCL, on the other hand, are handled more frequently.  The load gets put on a vehicle, then unloaded to a warehouse, where it is then sorted and put into a shared container.  Then when they reach their destination, they are unloaded, sorted onto a truck, before making its final trek to you.  Naturally, this makes LCL slower than FCL.

How do I choose?

In the end, the answer completely depends on the size of your shipment, and how flexible you are with your load.  If your volume is less than 20 cbm, it may be advantageous to just go with the LCL method.  Unless it has special delivery requirements or fragile—in which case, FCL would be the method for you.


Don’t forget to sign up for our e-newsletter so you can get the best of our blog on a monthly basis straight to your inbox!.

We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we can fulfill your logistic needs!