Reweighs and Reclasses
Here is another good reason for LTL shippers to get their weights, dimensions, classes, and descriptions correct on the BOL: reweighs and how they affect freight class.
My good friend Esslie Davis recently shared a perfect example. She met with a shipper who ships commodities classified by the NMFC’s standard 11-sub scale shown below. The shipper had been describing their freight as CL250, but Esslie determined that based upon the weight and density of pallets tendered, the class was actually CL125 for a good portion of their shipments. With this quick verification, she was able to reduce their freight charges on these shipments by 50%. Wow!
You might be asking why the carrier was not already correcting these shipments down to CL125. They have dimensioners and inspectors, right? Well, it’s complicated. First, the rating process itself is complicated and carriers may not be able to auto-adjust the class. Second, their systems and processes may be more geared or focused upon shipments that generate revenue increases due to inspections. And third, they may require an actual visual inspection to reduce the class and inspectors simply have not noticed this discrepancy yet.
This brings up an interesting and related topic. If you ship a density-based commodity, and the BOL is found to be inaccurate, does the carrier automatically adjust the class based upon the new density?
The answer is: it depends upon the carrier. Some carriers only apply reweigh increases and will not apply decreases. If you over-state the shipment weight on the BOL, and the carrier verifies that, they will still use your over-stated weight to charge you. Some carriers specifically state that they will NOT adjust the class, but that the shipper can dispute the correction if they have supporting documents. And each carrier may have their own “internal” rules separate from what their rules tariff may say.
Well over 50% of LTL shipments today are classified based upon density using the NMFC’s full-scale density table noted above. And around 75% of shipments are classified using some form or derivative of this table or other pure-density scale. LTL shippers simply cannot know they are being charged correctly and cannot prevent invoice surprises unless they know their shipment weights and dims.
One protective measure is to know your shipment weights and dimensions, and thus your densities, so you can at least compare those densities to the NMFC full-scale density table above. For example, if your shipment’s density is 10 PCF and you think the class is CL60, something seems off. For CL60, the density should be 30 PCF or greater. You likely have
- Classified your shipment incorrectly, or
- Packaged it in a way that it is taking up too much space, or
- A correct classification but your shipment simply has a very poor profile for the given class.
Either way, your carrier is not going to make an appropriate profit using CL60 as a basis. A shipment like this is a red flag for the carrier’s inspection team to take a closer look. It’s a shipment begging for a re-class, and an invoice surprise.
An even better protective measure is to utilize a solid TMS that computes density and flags shipments whose density does not align with the stated class. The TMS offered by the company Esslie works with does just that. This gives you protection on the front end so that you don’t pay more than you should. And it protects you on the back end from invoice surprises because you used the wrong class.
This is a big problem for LTL shippers. And oftentimes, as in the example above, the shipper does not even know they have a problem. Simple auditing and knowing our shipment weights and dimensions is the solution. And once you have that data, you now have real and accurate information which is very powerful. You simply cannot have intelligent and beneficial conversations about sourcing or re-sourcing capacity from carriers without this critical data. Without it, carriers will apply the risk of the unknown into the price they offer you.
LTL Shippers: know your weights, know your dims.