Whether you ship orders directly from a distribution center or use a third-party logistics partner, you will likely encounter dimensional weight (commonly referred to as DIM weight), a major factor in determining shipping costs.
Item Size Matters
Until recently, most major carriers only used weight and shipping distance to calculate costs, but now the size of an item is factored as well. Shipping lightweight items in giant boxes takes away valuable storage space in transit. DIM weight pricing takes the package’s size into account, assessing the shipper for the volume it occupies instead of just its weight.
What is DIM Weight and How is it Calculated?
DIM weight is calculated by multiplying a package’s length, width, and height, then dividing it by a carrier’s dimensional factor. Parcel carriers determine the billable shipping charges by comparing DIM weight to the actual weight; the greater of the two determines the shipping costs. As this form of measurement could impact a package’s shipping costs, it is critical that your measurement system be as accurate as possible. Relying on manual measurements and calculation of DIM weight could lead to unnecessary additional shipping costs. Carriers have even started to impose audit fees if shippers misstate package dimensions.
For example, let’s say a package that weighs 28 pounds has a DIM weight of 30 pounds. Due to human error when measuring the package, the DIM weight is recorded as 32 pounds. Remember that the billed weight is the higher of the two, so the carrier will charge based off the inaccurate, 32 pound weight, adding unnecessary costs to the shipment. These inaccurate dimensions are particularly costly when choosing to ship as a parcel or freight. Carriers like FedEx and UPS have specific weight and size limits to determine if freight shipping is needed.
Several parcel carriers currently require packages with a combined length and girth over 165 inches to be shipped as freight. Let’s say a 40x40x24 package is manually measured and the height recorded is 22-inches, resulting in a combined length and girth of 164 inches. As this is below the 165 inch freight threshold, the package is shipped as a parcel. However, when the carrier measures the package and discovers the height is 24 inches, increasing the combined length and girth to 168 inches, they will add a significant surcharge for the inaccuracy. Had the initial measurement been accurate and the package shipped as freight, the cost of shipping freight is not nearly as significant as the surcharge from shipping as a parcel.
To prevent costly inaccuracies, you need a reliable system for measuring boxes. xDIM, powered by 4DMobile, measures box dimensions – within half an inch of accuracy – in just seconds. Using a 3D camera and rugged tablet, the software captures a box’s length, width, and height in a single step. You can even pre-load your specific carrier’s dimensional factor so that the software can calculate the DIM weight as well.