• Sharpen Your Bill of Lading, Pay Less in Freight

    September 1st, 2009

    It used to seem like motor carriers would “look the other way” when it came to the way shippers filled out their bill of ladings.  As long as the freight class that went along with the description was “close to what they were shipping, the carriers never bothered with it.  However, now there is too much of an extra revenue source for the carriers to ignore these poorly filled out descriptions and have incentivized dock workers to capitalize on shippers who do not fill this out the proper way.

    The biggest mistake people make when filling out a bill of lading is they simply put a basic description of the product like “plastic figurines”.  The problem is that plastic figurines are a density item according to the NMFC and can be classified at any class from a 70 to a 400 (which is a difference of about 250% in price).

    Without a classification number, the carriers have every right to bill out at a class 400 if “plastic figurines” is all they are given.  The proper way to describe this item on a bill of lading is to write a description which includes the NMFC issued number.  This is a perfect way to describe this item “Plastic Articles, NMFC #157320 Sub 8, Class 85.”

    Elizabeth LaFleur, freight auditor for Logistics Management, Inc., says shippers will cut down on a lot of headaches if they followed this simple process.  LaFleur says, “When a carrier see’s a poor description, they red flag it and can classify it at a much higher class.  If the description on the bill of lading is vague, a lot of times there is nothing that can be done to fight it.  However, if the item number is on the bill of lading then there, is no problem.”

    Not only can this be a hassle, the cost can be significant to a shipper.  The way it is nowadays in the freight world is if a shipper does not fill out their bill of lading accurately they get nailed not only with the difference in the freight class but also with a “Weight & Inspection” fee which can be as high as $30.00.

    What a Bill of Lading Should NOT Look Like

    incomplete bill of lading

    Recently I visited a prospect that was getting overwhelmed with Weight & Inspections from carriers.  They pulled their bill of ladings for me and on them was the description for “tools”.  There was two problems with this description.  First, “tools” is too vague of a description and second, they were actually shipping drive shafts and other engine parts for race cars.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • How the NMFC Affects Your Business

    August 6th, 2009

    The NMFC has something to do with freight class. That is about all most of us know what the NMFC is all about. But it can’t hurt to know more what the NMFC is, who runs it, where does it come from, how do I get one, this article is for you! After this article, you will know exactly what the NMFC is and how it affects your business.

    First off, the NMFC stands for National Motor Freight Classification. It is a guide used to classify all the commodities shipped and handled by motor carriers in North America.  The commodities are assigned one of 18 different classes – from a low of 50 to a high of 500 – based on four transportation characteristics:  density, stow-ability, handling and liability.

    It also includes rules and packaging requirements for each type of commodity to ensure adequate protection for products moving in the LTL motor carrier service.

    The NMFC constitutes industry standards which are developed and maintained by the National Classification Committee (NCC), an autonomous committee of 100 carrier representatives who are elected to represent the more than 1,000 motor carriers participating in the NMFC. The NCC’s activities are regulated by the US Surface Transportation Board which is part of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

    The NMFC is published by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), a nonprofit organization based in Alexandria, VA.

    Defining Freight Class

    Although, classes are determined by density, stow-ability, handling and liability, the biggest factor in determining the class is the density. The denser the commodity is, the lower the freight class. Always remember that!

    Here is a “rule of thumb” we folks in the freight industry use to do a quick estimate to determine a particular freight class. Of course this should be backed up by the NFMC but you can a pretty accurate idea of a freight class by following this chart. Read the rest of this entry »