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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.

6 Ways to Lower Freight Shipping Costs

colorful freights at a port

The shipping industry is evolving, and so are the strategies to optimize freight costs. Managing costs is crucial for maintaining a healthy bottom line. In this blog post, we’ll delve into some valuable insights and tips based on key principles on how to manage and reduce freight shipping costs.

1. Know Your Transportation Options:

The foundation of effective cost management begins with understanding your shipping options. As US Cargo Link offers a range of logistics solutions, businesses can choose between ocean, air, and ground transportation methods. By aligning your cargo with the most suitable mode, you can unlock potential savings. For instance, ocean shipping, known for its cost-effectiveness, is a prudent choice for international goods. Hence, combining multiple modes can lead to even better results, reducing costs while ensuring timely deliveries.

2. Consolidation for Efficiency:

Consolidation is a strategy that US Cargo Link recognizes as a game-changer. By combining LTL shipments or partnering with nearby companies, you can benefit from shared resources and reduced expenses. This approach not only drives down costs but also enhances transit performance, a win-win scenario.

3. Packaging and Design Optimization:

Much like the importance of smart packaging in logistics, US Cargo Link emphasizes efficient packing. Consider adopting packaging strategies that maximize the use of space, allowing you to ship more products with fewer pallet spaces. Collaborating with carriers to optimize packaging can lead to lower freight costs without compromising product protection.

4. Leverage Relationships and Contract Rates:

US Cargo Link’s advice on building carrier relationships aligns with nurturing partnerships to reduce freight costs. Negotiating attractive rates with high-volume carriers can yield favorable terms and consistent savings. Contracting long-term arrangements not only provides cost certainty but also enables carriers to optimize their operations, resulting in mutual benefits.

5. Strategic Timing and Logistics Planning:

In line with US Cargo Link’s approach to off-peak shipping, effective logistics planning plays a vital role in cost reduction. By analyzing shipping patterns, you can identify optimal times to schedule shipments, taking advantage of lower rates during off-peak periods. Implementing a comprehensive logistics strategy allows you to make informed decisions that lead to enhanced efficiency and cost savings.

6. Embrace Innovation and Outsourcing:

US Cargo Link’s recommendation to outsource freight management resonates with the idea of leveraging technology and expertise. Embracing innovations such as transportation management software (TMS) can streamline operations, optimize rates, and enhance overall efficiency. Outsourcing to experienced logistics partners enables businesses to tap into industry knowledge, driving down costs while maintaining quality service.

In the dynamic world of logistics, cost management is a continuous endeavor. By understanding transportation options, embracing consolidation, optimizing packaging, fostering relationships, strategic planning, and leveraging technology, companies can achieve significant savings while ensuring seamless logistics operations.

At US Cargo Link, we believe the path to lower freight shipping costs is a strategic blend of innovation, collaboration, and proactive decision-making. Contact us now to optimize you freight costs!

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!

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?


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 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!


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!

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!

Visibility Is the Master Key to Solve Most Challenges in Logistics

Last week, we explored the 2019 study conducted by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) on Supply Chain Priorities and Investments.   It concluded with an assumption that customer experience will be the top differentiator between brands over the next five years.  Whether or not you agree with this trend, the study offered simple recommendations any supply chain could adopt to improve on their customer experience.  One of them being having real-time visibility.

Traditional logistics has been challenged with the trending shift towards sustainability priorities, faster shipping, and new complexities with variability.  Nowadays, logistics experts have been crediting visibility as a master key of sorts to solving all supply chain challenges.

It is a known fact that the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States comes from the logistics industry.  Transportation has surpassed power plant emissions in 2017 for the first time since 1978.  Though the number of trucks in fleets has increased by 4.6% in the past decade, their greenhouse gas emissions have grown more than eight times the rate of lighter vehicles giving a rightful growing cause for concern. 

Now, policies that enforce sustainability are providing companies a competitive advantage whereas before, the stance may have been viewed as a corporate responsibility initiative.  It is becoming more and more of an asset to be environmentally conscious and taking the steps to achieve climate positive, or at the very least—net zero carbon.  For example, Qantas Group recently announced their goal of being net zero carbon by 2050.  Amazon earlier this year announced they want to be net zero carbon by 2040.  IKEA wants to be climate positive by 2030. 

Not every company has the means to tackle such a difficult, expensive, and timely task.  This is how visibility can be a simple solution to provide that competitive edge everyone wants.  Visibility software can assist with tracking progress on sustainability initiatives by providing information that can help reduce dwell time, improve traceability, and eliminate empty miles also known as, “deadhead”. 

Some companies may lack the actual resources to provide faster shipping to their customers making it difficult to keep up with the competition.  However, implementing a visibility software that allows customers to track their shipments as it goes through the supply chain process can still give a company the leg up on their competition.  Through visibility, customer requirements can be addressed in real-time and provide greater responsiveness to customers. 

As supply chain evolves to be more and more complex filled with variability, visibility can assist in many ways.  Overall, visibility can provide transparency and reveal supply chain blind spots that would otherwise remain unnoticed like more efficient ways to manage stock.  It makes monitoring business metrics and outcomes much easier. It allows anyone, including the customer, to instantly access vital information. 


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!

What’s the Difference Between Asset-Based & Non-Asset Based 3PL?

The purpose of logistics and supply chain providers are to increase overall efficiency of a company, cut both hard costs and soft costs, decrease errors and mitigate risk, and accomplish everything on time. Logistic companies are typically sorted into two categories: asset-based and non-asset based.

A non-asset based logistics service provider does not own assets to manage and implement a supply chain. Their specialty is more for negotiating contracts with carriers and maintaining carrier relationship management programs to manage your supply chain at the lowest cost. Since they are non-asset based, they don’t have to utilize an inventory of assets to remain profitable and are generally more flexible. Even though clients work closer with a non-asset based 3PL provider, the execution of it is all up to the provider in the end. One of the disadvantages of working with a non-asset based logistics provider is that they may find difficulty in finding cost effective solutions.

At US Cargo Link, we are an asset-based logistics provider meaning we own all the assets necessary to run a client’s supply chain. These could include trucks, warehouse, distribution centers, etc. A well-established asset-based 3PL company should be able to lower the expense of moving and sorting goods for their clients. However, because this type of 3PL has made investments in their physical assets, they are somewhat attached and obligated to use those assets when devising ways to manage logistics. This limits options for customization and flexibility. In terms of hard costs of procurement, most of the time asset-based 3PL service providers offer lower costs on warehousing and transportation because they are not paying a third party and are setting their own prices.

We take pride in servicing our customers by providing solutions that addresses every unique concern in a project. We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions for your supply chain, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we can fulfill your logistic needs!

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Top 5 Ways to Celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week!

September 8-14 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week! America will be taking time to honor all professional truck drivers for their hard work throughout this week.

Truck driving is so essential to the American economy and one of the toughest, most demanding, and thankless professions out there.  There are 3.5 million men and women that not only deliver goods safely, securely, and timely—but also, upholding important safety procedures to keep our roads safe. 

If you’re in the logistics industry, we hope that you take this week to really show your fellow drivers just how much you appreciate them!  Here are five fun ways to show how much you care:

#1 A Handwritten Letter of Gratitude

With technology these days, it’s so easy to overlook the sentiment that can come from a simple handwritten thank you note.  Sending it directly to the drivers’ home and addressing the whole family could be a special touch especially when it comes directly from the CEO.  Remember—every day your driver is on the road is time they sacrifice from their family.  So, take the extra step to thank their families as well!  You could sweeten the gesture even more by including a gift card.

#2 Gifts!

Who doesn’t love gifts?!  It could be something for work or something they can appreciate in their own time.  The possibilities are endless!  Give them a lumbar pillow or a pressure relieving cushions for their long excursions on the road, or an audio book/music streaming subscription for when they are on and off the job.  Or, make it super personal by gifting them something you know they’d appreciate a lot!

#3 Company Lunch/Outing

Organize an event for the entire company and their families to enjoy a meal or a fun-filled night of activities.  Cut loose at happy hour, play sports/games, or go on an escape room excursion. Anything that brings to team together and build camaraderie.

#4 Put Your Appreciation on Blast!

Start this week with a morning hype session by giving out positive affirmations to each of your drivers.  Get them excited for the day and reinvigorate them with motivation!  They do important work that can often feel mundane but, nothing is more refreshing than to start the workday with a group of people who are full of energy and enthusiastically expressing gratitude when most of the time, good work goes unnoticed.  It could be done in the office as they are coming in; over the radio if they’ve been on the road for a long haul; or even online through social media! (Shout out to our drivers! We appreciate you!)  If nothing else, just set aside some time this week with your drivers and tell them face-to-face just how valuable they are.  It costs absolutely nothing to be especially kind this week.

#5 Going Above and Beyond

While September 8-14 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, you can go above and beyond by celebrating as if it was every single day because where would we be without our drivers?

Speaking of drivers…we’re hiring!  Think you got what it takes to haul with us?  Click here to apply now!!


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