In logistics, transportation cost is a major challenge for all small businesses. In order to maintain a minimal expense in logistics, it is important to calculate the accurate dimension and weight of products to determine the shipping rates correctly. If you miscalculate, you will either be paying too much on shipping or charging your customers too less. Therefore, volumetric weight is an important part of shipping. Logistics carriers use volumetric calculations to determine transport costs. Therefore, it is essential for every business to understand the same to make the best of it.
In this article, we discuss volumetric weight, how to calculate volumetric weight and its formula, and how to calculate volumetric weight in air shipment.
What is volumetric weight?
Let us begin by understanding the meaning of volumetric weight. Volumetric weight or dimensional weight is a pricing technique used by shipping companies to get a more realistic estimate of the logistics expense involved with a particular package. This is needed because the actual volume of a product can affect the costs involved in shipping. It is a weight-measurement method where the weight of a parcel is determined by multiplying its length, breadth and height and then dividing with a courier-specific constant.
The courier partner usually charges for goods based on the higher weight of the package out of the actual weight and dimensional weight. The price of shipment is mostly dictated by the volumetric weight of goods rather than the actual physical weight.
The difference between actual weight and volumetric weight is that the actual weight of the package is the weight of the parcel on the weighing scale while volumetric weight refers to how much space the package occupies according to its dimensions, which is converted to its equivalent weight.
Let us understand with this example –
A box of 50 smartphones weighing 1 kg is quite easy to transport and store and there is no extra effort in handling the same. However, if we need to ship a 6×10 inch glass statue, it could be equal in weight to the box of smartphones, but it requires a lot more effort to handle and store. It involves specialty workers, careful packing, and so on. This is where the actual weight of a shipment is often not very helpful and there is a need for dimensional weight calculations.
Volumetric weight is important as it allows us to know the space the product will occupy in the truck/container/vehicle and helps in planning transport loads and their cost. It also helps shipping companies to charge correct rates from the customers.
Considering that many small businesses prefer to ship via partial truckload (PTL) services against full truck load (FTL) and less than truck load (LTL), volumetric weight is critical.
How to calculate volumetric weight?
Volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the box length (L), breadth(B) or width (W), and height(H) and then dividing the result by 5000. The volumetric weight is usually calculated in centimetres (cm) or inches (in). The result of your calculation will give you the volumetric weight of your parcel.
Volumetric weight = Length x Width x Height
For example, suppose you want to ship a box of pillows that is quite large in dimension, say 200 cm x 100 cm x 200 cm, but weight wise it is only 10kgs. When we use the volumetric weight formula (length X width X height / 5000), the volume of this parcel is 800 volumetric kilograms. As the volume is more than the physical weight of 10 kgs, the price is based on 800 kilograms. For this reason, it is extremely important to measure the widest, longest and highest points of your parcel.
You can easily calculate the volumetric weight for your products with the help of online volumetric calculators. The shipping calculator will give you an estimate of your shipping charge once you key in the dimensions of your product.
If we consider different modes of shipping, the rates again will vary. For airfreight, as shipments come by air a higher cost is involved. The formula to calculate volumetric weight for air freight is as follows:
In air, each cubic meter is considered as 167 kg. Therefore, following the same formula, if your package occupies 0.25 m3, the volumetric weight of the parcel will be 40 kg.
Pro Tip: Always round up the results of your calculation. For instance, the length of the package is 29.25, round it up to 30.
Steps to calculate volumetric weight
- Measure the three dimensions of the box (length, width, height) and multiply them
- If the dimensions are in centimetres, divide the result with 5000
- If the scale of measurement is in inches, divide by 305
- The total result gives the volumetric weight of your box
- Courier will consider the higher of the two (actual and volumetric) as billable weight
How can you manage volumetric weight?
Most businesses strive to use volumetric shipping to their advantage by maximising shipping efficiency Volumetric weight can be maintained by using the following three ways:
- Efficient packaging – Since size is the determining criteria, use the smallest possible box to maintain volumetric weight. There are effective tools available to automate the process and to ensure that every order goes in the right box.
- Grouping products – In case you want to ship multiple products in one go, try to leverage the system and create a single shipment that is balanced in weight and dimensions. You can pair lower and higher density items together to optimise the weight.
- Follow carrier guidelines – Take note of career guidelines while packaging to make a safe delivery. This holds true more for shipping fragile items where you need to take extra care while packing. The carrier guidelines will help you to ease the packing process.
To sum up: How to make the best of volumetric weight for your shipping needs?
Logistics carriers use volumetric calculations to determine transport costs. Therefore, it is essential for you to learn how it operates and makes the optimal use of the same for your benefit. There are several practices that can be implemented to decrease the volumetric weight of parcels. Some tips include using the right type of packaging for your products, vacuum packing, sending items like furniture in pre-assembled state, etc.
To conclude, if you have any doubt about calculating volumetric weight or any other logistics challenges, you can register on Tata nexarc’s logistics platform – nexLogistics, where our experts will guide you to secure the most affordable and hassle-free cargo movement services. nexLogistics brings businesses and logistics partners together on one platform and help you explore services, compare prices, and work with a logistics partner of your choice.