Explanation of Rate Scale

Whether your shipment is moving to the other side of the state, the other side of the country or even the other side of the world, one of the things you're going to want to know is the cost of transporting it to your customer. There are several factors that are generally involved in determining freight rates. We can use the shipment from the sample shown under the bill of lading section as an example.

The NMFC class is combined with the shipment's weight and length of haul from origin to destination to determine a base rate, usually stated in cents per hundred pounds (or hundredweight, "cwt"). Due to various economies, such as reduced handling, the per hundredweight rate decreases as shipment weight increases. To determine the freight charges, the weight of the shipment is multiplied by the applicable rate.

Below is a sample line of rates shown in cents per hundredweight. The 2M (2000 lb.) rate is 6322 cents, or $63.22 per cwt.

L5C 5C 1M 2M 5M 10M 20M
8429 7582 7015 6322 4998 4548 4299

To calculate the freight charges:
Determine where the actual shipment weight would fall; 3000 lbs. would fall between the 2M (2000 lbs.) and the 5M (5000 lbs.) weight breaks.

Multiply the actual weight by the 2M rate:

3000 lbs. @ 6322 cwt = $1896.60
Then, multiply the next weight break by the 5M rate:
5000 lbs. @ 4998 cwt = $2499.00

Our rating system automatically checks "as weights" to determine if a lower charge would result from rating the shipment at the next higher weight break. Since the "as" weight, in this case, does not produce a lower charge, the freight bill will show 3000 lbs. rated at 6322 cents per cwt.

However, in the following example, using the higher weight does produce a lower charge; therefore, the freight bill will show 4200 lbs. rated "as" 5000 lbs. at 4998 cents per cwt.

Actual wt - 4200 lbs. @ 6322 cwt = $2655.24

"As" wt - 5000 lbs. @ 4998 cwt = $2499.00

Once the freight charges have been determined, any applicable discount would be applied. Any charges for additional services would then be added.

Complete details on availability and application of those special services, along with information on freight terms, definitions and rules, can be found in our ABF 111 Series rules tariff.

What is the NMFC?

One thousand pounds of ping pong balls occupy much more room in a trailer than 1000 pounds of bowling balls, and 1000 pounds of computers may present considerably more liability exposure than 1000 pounds of metal shelves. And what's easier to handle and load into a trailer, a 500 pound shrink-wrapped pallet or five 20 foot street lights? Everyday, ABF Freight moves thousands of different products (often referred to as commodities) through our system, each with a unique mixture of size, shape, weight and value. ABF Freight relies on the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC), the national industry standard tariff to define, catalog and assign classifications for all products shipped across our nation's highways.

The NMFC is a reference book for the trucking industry to assist both carriers and shippers. A brief outline below shows that the NMFC is divided into various sections:

  • Indexes to assist in locating specific commodities.
  • An index providing rules governing the use of the NMFC.
  • Rules relating to the movement of commodities, including specific shipping, packaging, and transportation requirements with which the shipper and carrier must adhere.
  • Examples of the Uniform Domestic Bill of Lading, its terms and conditions.
  • Description and classifications for every commodity.
  • Specifications for required packaging.
  • Rules for overcharge, loss and damage claims.

Essentially, all commodities are separated into one of 18 different categories, or classifications, ranging from class 50 to class 500. There are four primary factors that determine the way a commodity is classified by the NMFC: density, value, stowability and handling considerations and susceptibility to damage. The NMFC assigns the class of the freight based on the combination of these four factors that the commodity exhibits. The higher the expense or the risk of hauling the commodity, the higher the class designation. Therefore, the higher the class, the higher the corresponding per hundredweight rate.

The primary factor in the determination of rates is density. In fact, numerous NMFC items are further divided into subs, based on the density of the commodity (e.g. Item 156600, Plastic Articles, NOI). Comparing the ping pong and bowling balls mentioned earlier, a doubles (pup) trailer could be filled with only a few hundred pounds of ping pong balls (a class 500 item), while the same trailer space could be occupied by over 20,000 pounds of bowling balls (class 70).

That is why one aspect crucial to correctly rating your freight bill is a complete and accurate commodity description. For commodities subject to density- or cube-based scales or classification, inclusion of precise cube and density information is essential to rating accuracy. Not only does this insure proper billing, but also assists in error-free transportation of your shipment. ABF Freight has the ability to assist you in accurate classification of your products, including the establishment of a pre-formatted bill of lading for your company. Contact your local ABF Freight terminal for more information.

How can I determine my freight charges?

ABF Freight offers a number of ways to provide your charges before you ship. Rate quotations are available directly from this site.

Your local terminal can help you with quotes or call our rate department at 1-800-367-2237.

Governing Provisions

This guide summarizes but does not amend applicable common carrier tariffs prepared and maintained at ABF Freight's general office located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. It includes a summary of key rules from the underlying and official rules tariff, ABF 111 Series. It is offered as a general guide to the application of pricing provisions. If your specific pricing includes an exception to the general application, your specific provisions effective on the date of shipment will prevail.

The common carriage service provided by ABF Freight is subject to rates and other tariff provisions or terms ("Tariffs") that this company has individually determined, as well as provisions in the National Motor Freight Classification ("NMFC") and in certain mileage guides.

Overcharge, chargeback, loss and damage claims shall be filed with ABF Freight and processed separately from the payment of transportation charges. The payment of uncontested transportation charges due ABF Freight may not be postponed or offset.

Any claim by carrier or customer to collect undercharges or overcharges shall be commenced not more than 180 days after the receipt by ABF Freight of the shipment.

Proof of the required participation in the collectively established publications is available upon request. Also pursuant to the requirements of 49 U.S.C. §§13102 and 13710, this company maintains, at its own facilities, all of the rate and other tariff provisions that it has individually determined, for application to the service it provides.

Notations on the bill of lading with regard to rates, charges or commodity classification will be considered for information purposes but will neither remove nor modify applicable provisions in ABF Freight tariffs or written agreements.

The only authorized pricing and other provisions for ABF Freight services are those which has been approved, in writing, by the ABF Freight Pricing Department. Copies of the pricing for your account are always available upon request and may be ordered from the ABF Freight Publications Department at P.O. Box 10048, Fort Smith, AR 72917.