# Understanding Less-than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping and Freight Broking: A Beginner’s Guide to LTL

Domestic trucking is the most common way to transport products and materials throughout the United States. Ranging from fresh produce to project materials, or even hazardous goods, all LTL truckloads are subject to regulations imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. A LTL shipment takes place when a trucking company takes various customers’ small orders and consolidates them into one truckload, saving fuel costs and increasing efficiency in business operations. Whether you are a common customer or a freight broker (shipping company), you will need to properly calculate your LTL freight class before tendering freight to a carrier.

Write down exactly what you are shipping, its value, what the product will be used for, as well as the weight and dimensions of the order. If you have multiple containers or packages to be sent, record the weight and dimensions of each package. You must repeat the process for all products in the shipment (if more than one type of product is being shipped.) Search for a trucking company to help you with your weight class calculations. Many trucking companies only offer full truckload service, so search specifically for LTL carriers. Define your search by beginning with “Transportation,” then “Trucking,” and finally “Less than Truckload.”

Call one of the LTL carriers from your list. Provide them with the information regarding your shipment. LTL carriers have full access to the National Motor Freight Classification manual, which categorizes all types of freight into 18 classes of transportation. Classes start from class 50 and can reach as high as 500. The general rule of thumb is the higher the class, the higher the rate.

Calculating the Density

Determine the density of your shipment. Freight classes of LTL shipments are determined, in part, by densities. Use inches as a standard measurement.

Multiply the length by width by height of your shipment to calculate density. The result is the total cubic inches.

Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728. The result is the cubic feet of your shipment.

Divide the weight (in pounds) by the total cubic feet. The result is the density. Refer to the National Motor Freight Classification manual (through your LTL carrier) to verify the maximum density of a freight class.