In the logistics industry, topics about technology and chain efficiency are widely discussed. Oftentimes, certain technical lingo can be confusing for people who are not seasoned industry specialists or thought leaders. In this post, we are going to explain what NMFC codes are why they are important to companies in the freight and logistics industry.
What are NMFC Codes?
Regulators within the logistics industry, referred to as NMFTA (National Freight Traffic Association), created NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) codes when they realized there was a need for more effective standardization. This body created a classification system for every type of freight in an effort to standardize freight pricing and establish fair measures.
The system has 18 different freight classes and it is catalogued with NMFC tariffs. Numbers between 50 and 500 are used to define the 18 freight classes, and are often used by carriers and shippers to set shipping rates.
Four primary factors that help to define a freight class include:
- Stowability: This refers to how easily a product’s dimensions can easily fit into the carrying container or vessel. If a product is extremely large, hazardous, or extra heavy, it can be difficult to stow on a trailer, thus raising costs. The higher the stowability, the lower the classification of the freight.
- Liability: Products that are fragile, refrigerated, or perishable pose a greater liability and so they are classified in a higher class.
- Ease of handling: When freight is easy to handle, it is classified in a lower class. If freight is difficult to handle, it is placed in a higher class.
- Density: The higher the amount of space a shipment takes up on a trailer relative to its weight, the higher the class it is placed in.
Carriers and shippers use these factors to determine the cost of moving freight. If the freight cannot be accurately classified, it may lead to dangerous situations and inefficiencies.
How to Find the Correct NMFC Number
In order to find the NMFC number to your specific shipment, you need to consult with a freight company. The freight company will help you classify the shipment, which will then help to determine the shipping costs. It is important to deal with transport providers who use provisions of the NMFC because they are the only ones allowed to participate in the classification system. The disadvantage of using freight companies, which do not include tariff provisions of the NMFC in contracts, is that they can set rates as they see fit.
The Importance of the NMFC Number
Before shipping your packages, always ensure that you find out the NMFC number that applies to your intrastate or foreign shipment. This number will ensure that you are fairly charged for the shipments. If you don’t have the NMFC number, you will not have a baseline to determine if you are being overcharged for shipping.