Density Based LTL Pricing


uShip uses density based freight classes to bring you rates from LTL carriers. This means the dimensions and weight of your freight are the factors that determine the freight class and thus the pricing.

While much of the LTL freight world uses NMFC and commodity codes to determine freight class, we prefer density based freight because it eliminates arguments with carriers over commodity when there are opposing interpretations of the NMFC manual. Weight and dimensions are much clearer and easier to determine than NMFC codes. 

uShip determines density based freight class using the following pounds per cubic feet (PCF) equation. 

Note: 1728 is the number of inches in a cubic foot. 12" x 12" x 12" = 1728

Once the PCF is determined for the entire shipment, the corresponding density based freight class can be found on the National Motor Freight Traffic Association's Commodity Classification Standards Board Density Guidelines chart.


Lower density freight typically costs more to ship than higher density freight due to the way shipping costs are calculated and the space utilization efficiency.

Space Utilization: Lower density freight, such as bulky or lightweight items, takes up more physical space relative to its weight. This means that trucks, planes, or ships transporting lower density freight may not be able to carry as much cargo overall compared to higher density freight. As a result, the cost per unit of volume is higher for lower density freight because the carrier cannot maximize the use of available space.

Freight Class and Pricing: Carriers often categorize freight into different classes based on density, value, ease of handling, and other factors. Lower density freight typically falls into higher freight classes, which have higher shipping rates. These rates are based on a combination of factors including weight, volume, distance, and mode of transportation. Higher density freight, which occupies less space relative to its weight, may fall into lower freight classes and therefore have lower shipping rates.

Handling and Packaging Requirements: Lower density freight often requires more careful handling and specialized packaging to prevent damage during transit. This can add additional costs to the shipping process, including extra handling fees or the need for protective materials.

Fuel Costs: Transporting lower density freight may require more fuel per unit of weight transported compared to higher density freight. This is because carriers need to expend more energy to move larger volumes of cargo, which can increase fuel consumption and transportation costs.

 If you have additional questions, please feel free to continue perusing our Help Center or contact our Commercial Support team by clicking here.


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