Shipping Tip – Do the Bump!

By Jim Bramlett - November 8, 2010 - No Comments

Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog about dancing.  It is a blog about how shippers can sometimes take advantage of a little known rule to save money.  Unfortunately, it’s not for every shipper.  However, it is a savings technique that can be used if you are shipping a commodity that is based on density.  Such commodities include plastic articles, cloth or fabric, displays, decorations, metallic or wooden furniture, machine parts, sheet steel articles, signs and wooden ware or wooden articles.  A complete list is available in the National Motor Freight Classification Guide or you can contact your carrier and they can tell you if your shipments are based on density classifications.

I am not a fan of the NMFC.  I believe it is archaic, subjective and not all inclusive.  It serves as a basis for commodity corrections often resulting in additional charges for shippers.  I ultimately believe that, like the international community, shipping should be based on desnity and distance.  I’ll save that for another blog.

If you are shipping product based on density, the rules allow you to artificially bump the weight of your shipment so that your shipment results in a higher density, or lower classification.  Let me give you an example.  Let’s assume you are shipping 750 pounds of plastic articles.  If the shipment measures 48″x48′x48′ your cube woud be 64.  Dividing by the weight of 750 pounds provides a density of 11.7 pounds/cubic foot, or class 92.5.  If you artificially increase the weight from 750 pounds to 774 pounds, your density will change to 12.1 pounds/cubic foot, or class 85.  Assuming your shipment is from Chicago to Los Angeles, a class 85 shipment weighing 774 pounds will cost $446.00 instead of $466.58 that a class 92.5, 750 pound shipment would cost.  You save $20.58. 

You must abide by rules to take advantage of bumping.  You must list the actual cube, the actual weight, and the resulting actual item and sub (density based description) on the bill of lading.  Furthermore, you must declare the resultant weight (declared weight) and density for which the density is being bumped.  Finally, you may not bump more than one classification and you cannot bump to take advantage of any FAK rating that you may have.

In this example, we bumped the shipment to 774 pounds (real weight was 750) and that increase the density from 11.7 to 12.1 pounds/cubic foot.  It decreased the commodity classification from 92.5 to 85 (single classification) and therefore even though the shipment was heavier, the classification brought the charges down nearly 5%.

This will not always work.  It works best when your density is very close to the next lower class.  You have to do the math to figure out if bumping works for you.