Understanding Dimensional Weight

If you have ever received a quote on international air or ocean freight and questioned how they arrived at that total, then read on.  Most companies use a formula known as dimensional weight to calculate the shipping total of your goods.  As the premier shipping company for your packing and crating needs, we would like to explain what dimensional weight is and the various formulas that certain shipping companies use.

Dimensional weight

Dimensional weight is the combination of the three dimensions of your shipping package, otherwise known as volumetric weight.  The 3 factors of dimensional weight are:

  • Height, Length, Width

Many carriers choose to use dimensional weight because of the large shipping capacities that are often underutilized, especially when it comes to shipping small packages.

Here’s the Deal:

Smaller, heavier items surrounded by packaging for protection is considered smart packing, but it also takes up extra room that could be dedicated to other cargo.  That is where dimensional weight comes into play.

Shipping by Air or Ground

If you are shipping goods via air or ground, then the dimensional weight calculations are based on pounds or kilograms.  Many domestic and North American companies such as Canada Post, Air Canada and UPS use this as their dimensional weight formula.

  • L x W x H (inches)/366 (International/Air) = Dimensional Weight (kilograms)
  • L x W x H (centimeters)/6000 (Domestic/Ground) = Dimensional Weight (kilograms)
  • L x W x H (inches)/166 (Domestic/Ground) = Dimensional Weight (pounds)

Package sizes are always rounded up to the nearest inch and weights are always rounded up to the next pound or kilogram for pricing purposes.  Carriers may also compare dimensional weight to gross weight and apply the heavier weight as their pricing.

Shipping by Sea

When shipping goods by sea, weight calculations are also based on dimensional weight, unless the gross weight is heavier.  Ocean freight uses multiples of 20 feet and 40 feet instead of single trailer or cargo areas, thus dimensional weight calculations are based in cubic feet or cubic metres.  The formula used to determine dimensional weight for ocean shipping is as follows:

  • L x W x H (inches)/1728 = Dimensional Weight (cubic feet)
  • L x W x H (centimeters)/1 000 000 = Dimensional Weight (cubic metres)

There are approximately 35 cubic feet to one cubic metre.  Each cubic foot is calculated at a weight of 10 pounds.

These standard formulas are how most shipping companies arrive at their quotes when using dimensional weight.  If you would like any more information or clarification on dimensional weight and how it impacts your business, please give us a call today.  We would love to answer your questions or concerns and be a part of your packing and crating solutions.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

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