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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!

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.

How to select the right Third-Party Logistics Partner

Three skilled personnel engaging in warehouse operations sealing successful partnerships with a firm handshake

In today’s fast-paced business world, effective supply chain management is essential for success. The complexity of logistics increases tremendously as businesses grow and enter new markets. This is where Third-Party Logistics (3PL) providers come in, offering expertise, resources, and efficiency to streamline the supply chain process. Based on a recent survey conducted in 2022 with over 300 participants from the shipping industry, 86% of shippers acknowledged the cost-effective benefits of collaborating with a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider for their logistics needs. In this article, we will explore the benefits of 3PL and provide insights on how to choose the right 3PL partner for your company.

Understanding 3PL and its Advantages:

Third-Party Logistics, or 3PL providers offer outsourced logistics services, including transportation, warehousing, inventory management, order fulfillment, and more.

There are many benefits that come with 3PL services. Firstly, it allows companies to focus on their core competencies by offloading non-core activities to experts. 3PL organizations are experts and can impart clients with their experience and connections to quickly streamline process. Moreover, partnering with a 3PL can lead to cost savings through economies of scale, improved inventory management, and reduced transportation expenses.

Selecting the Right 3PL Partner:

Choosing the compatible 3PL partner requires careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of various factors. Here are some key considerations to guide your decision-making process:

  1. Expertise and Services: Assess your specific logistical needs and ensure that the 3PL provider offers the required services and expertise to meet them effectively.
  2. Network and Reach: Evaluate the 3PL’s network of warehouses, distribution centers, and transportation capabilities.
  3. Technology and Integration: Ensure that the 3PL provider utilizes advanced software and systems for real-time tracking, visibility, and analytics.
  4. Reliability and Track Record: Look for a 3PL partner with a proven track record of reliability, on-time delivery, and exceptional customer service (references and client testimonials, …)
  5. Flexibility and Scalability: A flexible 3PL partner will adapt to your evolving needs, offering scalable solutions and the ability to accommodate growth or seasonal fluctuations.

Selecting the right 3PL partner can significantly improve your supply chain efficiency, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction. Collaborating with a reliable and capable 3PL provider will not only streamline your logistics processes but also allow you to focus on your core competencies, ultimately driving your business toward long-term success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

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, warehouses, distribution centers, etc. Contact us today to see how we can fulfill your logistic 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?


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!

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!