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A Guide To The Best Freight Shipping Deals

Posted in Blog on May 04, 2016, tagged with freight classifications, freight shipping

Moving to a new state or relocating offices can be expensive. Finding a good deal on freight shipping services can help keep your moving costs low, but it's not always easy to find the right freight shipping deal for your move.

Understanding the basics of truck shipping is the key to getting the best freight shipping deal, especially if you’re shipping something fragile, valuable or oddly shaped, such as an entertainment center, piano, antique china cabinet or conference room desk. So if you’re looking for the best freight shipping deals and have not had much experience working with trucking companies, keep reading to get our tips for selecting the right carrier for your shipment — at the right price. 

Overview: Freight Classes

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has established freight classifications that serve as the foundation of pricing in the trucking industry. Here they are, in order of lowest to highest cost, with examples:

  1. Class 50 — Fits on standard pallets, durable
  2. Class 55 — Bricks, cement
  3. Class 60 — Automotive parts
  4. Class 65 — Bottled beverages, boxes of books
  5. Class 70 — Car engines, automotive parts
  6. Class 77.5 — Tires, bathroom fixtures
  7. Class 85 — Crated machinery, transmissions
  8. Class 100 — Boat covers
  9. Class 110 — Framed artwork, table saw
  10. Class 125 — Small appliances
  11. Class 150 — Bookcases
  12. Class 175 — Padded furniture, couches
  13. Class 200 — Boxed mattresses
  14. Class 250 — Mattresses and box springs, plasma TV
  15. Class 300 — Cabinets, tables
  16. Class 400 — Deer antlers
  17. Class 500 — (Low density or high value) Bags of gold dust, ping pong balls

How to Determine Freight Classification

Determining the exact classification of your item(s) requires dialogue with the trucking firm providing your quote, as it depends on the density of the item and other factors:

  • Density. Generally, the denser the item, the less it costs to ship on a truck. Products that take up a lot of space, such as cabinets and bookshelves, limit how many additional items shippers can load on the truck.
  • Ease of storage and handling. A load of 10 boxes of books each weighing 20 pounds, neatly stacked and stretch-wrapped on a pallet is far easier to handle than 100 loose books or books overstuffed into flimsy boxes weighing 80 pounds each. The harder it is for the carriers to handle and stow the product, the more they will charge.

A couple of additional tips about freight classifications:

  • There are many online freight class calculators. They are helpful, but in the end, you will have to discuss freight class with your carrier.
  • If you have a mixed shipment with different freight classifications, you may be able to combine them to ship at the rate of the least expensive classification.

Things You Can Do to Get the Best Freight Shipping Deals

There are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of your freight shipment and make sure you get the best deal on your residential or commercial move.

1. Choose the right shipping method.

Understanding the difference between parcel shipping, LTL (less-than-truckload) shipping and full truckload shipping.

  • Parcel shipping is usually the most economical for shipments weighing less than 150 pounds, provided your item does not exceed the maximum girth allowed by the parcel shipper. For instance, a picnic table could be light enough, but too large, to parcel ship.
  • LTL shipments are useful for items and loads exceeding 150 pounds but do not fill an entire truck trailer. Some freight companies specialize in LTL shipments and handle them very efficiently — they are normally the type of carrier you are looking for when seeking a low rate (and great service.) LTL shipments cost more than full truckload shipments, pound for pound.
  • Full truckload shipments are generally the cheapest, since the carrier does not have to juggle delivery of multiple loads as it would with a load for, say, 10 LTL customers. If you are moving your entire house or office contents, a full truckload carrier will generally be the best option in terms of price and service. If you can find a full truckload shipper with a little extra space in the trailer, they may be very eager to fill that space with your plasma TV or china cabinet. You may even be able to get the full truckload rate rather than the LTL rate — an excellent deal, but hard to find unless you call a lot of carriers. It’s a little like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Along similar lines, LTL and full truckload shippers are always on the lookout for “backhauls” — that is, loads to carry back to the terminal after making their deliveries. Backhauls give carriers “gravy” revenue and are often willing to offer extremely cheap rates to get them — a little revenue is better than heading back to the terminal empty, with no revenue.

2. Give your carrier more time to make the delivery.

Extending your timeline can save you money - sometimes a lot of it. For LTL shipments, carriers are juggling multiple customers whose pickups and deliveries need to be coordinated. And, because things always go wrong with scheduling, these carriers are constantly under the gun to meet delivery dates. If you give them extra time, they reward you with a lower rate.

3. Stage your shipment.

Staging your shipment properly helps reduce shipping cost. The shipper would love to see your items ready to go in your garage, in shipping boxes not too heavy, and stretch-wrapped or strapped to a standard, wood pallet. Clean staging allows carriers to pick up, stow and handle your order faster, thus saving them — and you — money. Manufacturers and industrial distributors in your area may be happy to give you a few pallets at no charge — they are sometimes hard to recycle and expensive to dispose. Stretch wrap and plastic strapping are sold in many hardware stores — just be careful and watch a few video tutorials to learn how to use it properly. Also, before you palletize your item(s), make sure the carrier you select has the equipment to handle the pallet — either a forklift or pallet jack.

4. Move bulky items yourself.

Moving bulky items or item components on your own can help you get the best freight shipping deal. For instance, if you ship your entertainment center on a truck, but move the plasma screen yourself, you’re saving the carrier a headache and eliminating a high-price freight class from the mix. Lamp shades, patio chairs and patio chair pads, pillows — items like these lack density but take up a lot of space, so if you can, handle them yourself.

Transit Systems: We’ll Get You the Best Deal

Of course, you can also get the best freight deal much faster by making one phone call — to us! Transit Systems, Inc. specializes in LTL shipping, especially when it comes to oversized, high-value, and fragile items. We work with shippers all across the country, and will find you the best arrangement for your requirements — including the best price. Contact us today to learn more.