A significant factor in freight classification is the change in material composition and packaging. Production and building materials are shifting from heavy metals to lightweight plastics and polymers. Yesterday’s cast iron lawn furniture, pipes, and fittings have been replaced with polycarbonate and polyvinylchloride versions. In electronics, the switch from CRTs to LCDs significantly reduces product weight while often increasing value liability.
The use of lightweight materials can reduce tonnage by more than half, which, in turn, reduces rates charged by shippers. But operating costs and truck space required remain the same or may increase, creating a business challenge for LTL carriers. To compensate for less weight, some carriers are looking for higher freight classifications to offset lower charges compared to their costs.