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Understanding Volumetric Weight and Dimensional Weight4 min read

Have you at any given point tried to zip your suitcase, but you could not because it was too full and overloaded?

I guess your answer is yes.

That also happens for carriers transporting products. Their space is limited, and when it reaches its full capacity, some luggage must be left so that the shipping container can close.

Every carrier company has come up with some packing strategies so that they could maximize their capacity, which could ultimately increase their revenues. It is on that note that they have developed a technique of measuring volumetric weight.

In this article, we are going to show you everything about volumetric weight, how you can calculate it, and how you can reduce it. Read on and find out!

What is Volumetric/ dimensional Weight?

Volumetric weight is a pricing method used by shipping enterprises to make sure that they do not lose revenue while transporting packages. This calculation is based on both weight and size of the package.  A package may be light but occupying a lot of space and this will greatly affect the shipping price. For instance, you will be forced to pay more to ship a piece of luggage full of duvets than to ship small luggage of watches. A playset installation kit weighs hundreds of pounds, but the shipping price is also influenced by the volume of the boxes it comes in.

In recent years, costs of shipping were calculated basing on the gross weight in pounds and kilograms. Using this basis, packages with low density are not profitable for freight carriers due to the amount of space they will occupy in the plane/ship/truck as compared to its actual weight.

Thus dimensional weight was adopted worldwide by the transportation industry as a standardized method of showing the least amount to be charged to a package occupying a given cubic space (DIM weight). DIM weight is determined by calculating the cubic size of a package using a volumetric weight calculator (multiply length *height * width).

Measurements can be made either in centimeters or in inches. Starting 2015, FedEx and UPS announced that charges of all shipments, both air and ground, must be determined by the dimensional weight and the actual weight of the package. Volumetric weight charges applied only to shipment packages with a specific size range.

Freight carriers greatly utilize actual weight or volumetric weight in the calculation of shipping charges.

The volumetric weight for air freight can be calculated by determining the volume of the shipment. Then the imperial measurements which are in cubic inches are converted to cubic meters. The finalization of the dimensional weight is the next step. Weight is converted into kilograms, and then the comparison is made between the volumetric weight and the gross weight.

DHL gets the volumetric weight of exports by multiplying the height, length, and width of that package in inches. The product is divided by 139, which is the given unit divisor to express carriers on international shipments. Now you have the DIM weight, which is rounded to the next whole number.

Application of Volumetric Weight

Dimensional weight is a critical factor to consider in the shipment of packages. It tends to favor those people who are shipping objects with high density. For instance, a box full of maize will be charged according to its gross weight as compared to a box of popcorn, which most probably will be charged due to its volumetric weight. A box of popcorns will occupy more space but will not fulfill the carrier’s volume in terms of weight, thus making use of that space to be inefficient. Most shippers avoid these volumetric weight charges by reduced usage of packing materials, using smaller boxes, and also by compressing their packaged goods.

Volumetric weight is used commonly by truck carriers and air freight forwarders for invoicing. In 2007, the USPS initiated the use of dimensional weight method. It was designed such that lightweight objects were charged more, and to recover costs, manual sorting and handling were involved as most postal machines were designed to handle flats. For instance, mailing a parcel will be charged more than a flat parcel.

Dimensional Weight Calculator

The calculator below can be used to calculate volumetric weights for packages shipped with Parcelux. Please keep in mind that other carriers might used different dimensional weight formulas.

Fedex Dimensional Weight Formula

You can find it here. This is the volumetric weight formula for Fedex:

(L x W x H / 139)

UPS Dimensional Weight Formula

You can find it here. This is the volumetric weight formula for UPS:

(L x W x H/139) for daily rates; (L x W x H/166) for retail rates

USPS Dimensional Weight Formula

You can find it here. This is the volumetric weight formula for USPS:

(L x W x H/166)

These formulas are subject to change by their respective carriers and might not be updated. Dimensional weight is not always used. Parcelux uses the higher value between dimensional weight and actual weight.

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