Project Description

Universal Chargeable Weight Calculator

If you have a shipment that is light for its size, you may be charged at a higher rate than the actual weight – the dimensional weight. This easy to use dimensional weight and chargeable weight calculator works off any dim factor or volumetric ratio and is suitable for all modes, countries and carriers.

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How To Calculate Chargeable Weight

This tool uses the most popular units of dimensions, is very flexible for specifying dim factor or vol ratio, and is suitable for all modes, countries and carriers. You can also check dim weight without needing to supply shipment weight.

1. Input shipment volume and weight (lbs/kgs).
Slide the switch to the right if you know the shipment volume and weight in total, or slide left if you only them by unit. You must select ‘Total Volume’ if your shipment includes boxes of different volumes or weights.

2. Input dim factor.
The standard dim factors are suitable for most ocean (1:000 vol ratio), EU trucking (1:3000), express freight/courier (1:500) and air freight (1:600) shipments. For less common scenarios, input a custom ratio and UOM, e.g. “194” or “250” and “cu in/lb” for US trucking companies that don’t use freight class. If you select vol ratio, “1:” will be auto-populated.

3. Chargeable weight is highlighted in green.
Chargeable weight is the heavier of:

  • Dim weight (shipment volume divided by dim factor), or
  • Total shipment weight (total weight or unit weight x qty).

You can also use this tool with cylindrical packages. First check with the carrier whether they square the circle (the diameter becomes width and height) or go Greek ( πr2). Then, multiply that number by the length to get volume.

Understanding Dimensional Weight Saves Cost

Shipments light for their size, may be charged at dimensional weight rather than actual weight.

First ensure that the shipment has been carefully weighed. A small error may be the difference between your shipment being charged by dimensional weight rather than actual weight.

There are several ways you can save costs by reducing your shipment’s volume weight ratio:

Don’t over-package lightweight freight beyond the minimum required to protect your shipment.

  • Use the smallest carton size possible.
  • Minimise wasted space by compressing products that can be compressed.
  • Pack lightweight cartons together if possible.

Minimise pallet size and avoid them altogether on small shipments, especially for air freight. Their dimensions will balloon dimensions and therefore chargeable weight.

Express freight customers may also consider, negotiating your dim factor (if you are a regular customer) or using couriers that don’t use dimensional weight.

Why The Freight Industry Uses Dimensional Weight

Standard freight pricing is based on weight rather than volume. However very light loads take up much more space than their share of weight load, and would otherwise be unprofitable to ship.

The industry gets around this by imposing a minimum weight based on shipment dimensions. That’s why it’s called dimensional weight, if it’s not being called DIM weight, volumetric weight, volume weight or cubed weight.

A shipment’s dimensional weight is calculated by dividing its volume (units × length × width × height) by a “dim factor”. The lower the dim factor the greater the dimensional weight.

The greater of actual weight and dimensional weight becomes the shipment’s chargeable weight (aka billable weight). Light loads are charged by dimensional weight, heavier loads are charged by actual weight. The threshold depends on volume and the dim factor used.

There are some standards for calculating dimensional weight, but they are not universal for all modes of transport, carriers, countries, or customers.

Air Freight

The 1:6000 vol ratio, 6000 ccm/kg, 166 cu in/lb, 366 cu in/kg is common for IATA shipments. Air freight volume is usually rounded up to the next full or half kilogram.

Express/Courier

International express has used dimensional weight for parcels for many years, typically using a vol ratio of 1:5000, which is a dim factor of 139 cu in/lb. Recently some couriers, including DHL, FedEX, UPS and USPS have started using dimensional weight for ground services.

Ocean Freight

Because LCL has a very low dim factor, a shipment going by LCL will have a higher volumetric weight than if it went by any other mode. This is why almost all LCL cost is dimensional (usually referred to as “per CBM”). Only very dense shipments, like a pallet of batteries, are charged by actual weight.

Paradoxically, LCL is usually the cheapest mode, but only because its lower charges per unit weight more than make up for its higher volumetric weight. Very light shipments are an exception. LCL’s low dim factor (along with a higher indirect cost ratio) usually means that air freight is cheaper.

Truck LTL

Most US LTL freight shipment charging uses freight class rather than dimensional weight. Truckers using dimensional weight typically use a 194  or 250 dim factor.

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