Density Based Classing 101: Part 1

class-and-weight-blogAge, weight, how many pieces of cake you ate last night…these are all things that most people have probably approximated a time or two over the years. What’s not okay to guesstimate? Your shipment’s density!

If you want the most accurate freight quote possible, you have to accurately classify your shipment – and a shipment’s density may be one of the factors that determine your freight rate. Many commodities are assigned just one class, but for some commodities the class depends on the shipment’s density.

Step One: Determine If Product’s Class is Density-Based
The first step in finding out if your product’s class is density-based is identifying which NMFC code corresponds to the commodity being shipped. Ask yourself these important questions:

  • What is my product made of?
  • What is my product used for?
  • What are the loadability and handling characteristics for my product?
  • How will it be packaged?

Services such as can help assist you in determining the appropriate NMFC code and class for your product. Or, many times the manufacturer of the product can help in determining the NMFC code. If you do not have access to a service like ClassIT, you can look up the code in the official NMFC Book. Once you have the NMFC code you will be able to determine if your product is classed based on density.

Step Two: Calculate Density
If your product’s class is density based, you will need to calculate the density of your shipment. Density measures how heavy a freight shipment is relative to the size of the packaging. For example, a package with a high density would be a small piece of heavy machinery versus a package with a low freight density like a larger box filled with insulation.

The following formula will calculate the density of your shipment:

L x W x H = cubic inches
Divide by 1728 = cubic feet
Divide the weight by the cubic feet = Density

An easier solution than trying to relive your pre-algebra days in high school is to simply use Unishippers Freight Manager to process your freight shipments. Simply enter in the dimensions and weight and Freight Manager will automatically calculate the density for you. If you aren’t logged in, you can also use Unishippers Freight Density Calculator.

Stay tuned – in a few weeks we’ll talk more about Density Based Classing in our 3 part series!

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