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If you are a business owner or a company that deals with international (or domestic) commercial freight, there is a good chance that you have heard of the term “Dimensional Weight” before. For those who are new to term, dimensional weight for commercial freight is pricing term used for calculating the estimated weight based on the dimensions of a package (that is, the length, width, and height).

In the past, pricing for commercial freight was calculated based on weight which in turn became unprofitable for freight carriers when freighting low density or lightweight packages against the space that would be occupying in mode of transporting proportion to its actual weight. The shipping industry has since adopted the principle of dimensional weight for commercial freight pricing to ensure that a minimum charge for the cubic space it occupied is levied. In some courier companies, the greater of the actual versus dimensional weight will be levied to maintain a fair policy as well.

Essentially, dimensional weight is a theoretical estimate weight of a cargo package whereby the minimum density is chosen by the respective freight carrier. The fact is that if the package is below the minimum density, then the actual weight in question is irrelevant as the commercial freight rates will then be calculated based on the volume of the package as if it were the chosen density at the bare minimum density specified.

Dimensional weight is also known as volumetric weight or cubed weight, and abbreviated as DIM weight within the industry. The formula for this is (length x width x height)/ (dimensional factor). Shipping factors can be calculated in imperial or metric factors, whereby imperial will be considered in cubic inches per pound (and metric will be considered in cubic centimetres per kg as per the following.

Imperial Shipping Factors Metric Shipping Factors
·        139 in3/lb = 12 lb/ft3

·        166 in3/lb = 10.4 lb/ft3 – common for IATA shipments

·        194 in3/lb = 8.9 lb/ft3 – common for domestic shipments

·        216 in3/lb = 8.0 lb/ft3

·        225 in3/lb = 7.7 lb/ft3

·        250 in3/lb = 6.9 lb/ft3

·        5000 cm3/kg = 200 kg/m3

·        6000 cm3/kg = 166.667 kg/m3

·        7000 cm3/kg = 142.857 kg/m3



It should be mentioned that dimensional weight for commercial freight favours cargo shipments that are denser and will penalise those that are lightweight (as you will be required to pay the minimum density weight regardless). The simplest practical example to this factor would be corn kernels versus popcorn; whereby the shipment of corn kernels will be calculated by the gross weight whereby a box of popcorn will be charged by its dimensional weight. This is due to the fact that a box of popcorn will take up more space but not the weight of a vehicle which means that the mode of transport will be underutilised. Shippers can avoid being penalised to avoid being charged the minimum density dimensional weight is by using smaller boxes, compressing the goods, or reducing packing materials for your commercial freight.

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