Calculating Dimensional Weight for Shipping: A How to Guide

Calculating Dimensional Weight for Shipping: A How to Guide

Published on
September 28, 2023 at 12:12:00 PM PDT September 28, 2023 at 12:12:00 PM PDTth, September 28, 2023 at 12:12:00 PM PDT

Regardless of whether you dispatch orders from a central distribution hub or collaborate with a third-party logistics provider, a package's weight significantly influences the shipping cost and method. Yet, in the realm of logistics, it's not solely about the physical weight; the dimensional weight stands as an essential metric. So, what is dimensional weight, and why is it significant?

What is Dimensional Weight?

Dimensional (DIM) weight, sometimes referred to as volumetric weight, is a pricing technique used by shipping, freight and transportation companies. It considers the volume of the package being shipped rather than just the weight. The rationale behind this is simple: large packages that are lightweight can take up just as much space on a truck or airplane as a small but heavy package. For example, consider shipping a giant box of feathers versus a small box of lead. Even though the feathers might weigh very little, they would take up a significant amount of space, potentially preventing other goods from being shipped in the same load.

Shipping companies have both weight and space constraints. Large but lightweight packages can quickly fill up transportation containers without contributing much to the overall weight. To ensure they are adequately compensated for the space these packages occupy, shipping carriers consider the dimensional weight when calculating shipping costs.

Calculating DIM Weight

The formula for dimensional weight can vary depending on the shipping company and the region. However, the general approach is consistent:

Step 1 – Measure the Package: Determine the length, width, and height (LxWxH) of the package.

Step 2 – Calculate the Volume: Multiply the length, width and height together.

Step 3 – Determine the Dimensional Weight: Divide the volume by the specific divisor provided by the shipping company.

  • USPS DIM Weight Calculator Factor: 166
  • UPS DIM Weight Calculator Factor: 139 for daily rates, 166 for retail rates
  • FedEx DIM Weight Calculator Factor: 139

Step 4 – Compare Dimensional Weight to Actual Weight: Shipping carriers will charge based on whichever weight is higher – the actual or dimensional weight.

Cost of Inaccuracies

Since DIM weight could impact a package’s shipping costs, it is critical that your measurements are 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 18-pounds has a DIM weight of 20-pounds. Due to human error when measuring the package, the DIM weight is recorded as 22-pounds. Since the billed weight is the higher of the two, the carrier will charge based off the inaccurate, 22-pound weight, adding unnecessary costs to the shipment.

When it comes to saving on shipping costs, there are so many aspects out of your control (think inflation or increasing labor and operational costs), focus on what you can control – accurate dimensions for the most cost-effective shipping rates.

Streamlining DIM Weight Calculation

The process of calculating DIM weight can be quite tedious and is prone to mistakes. Some workers use a tape measure, pen and paper and a calculator to determine DIM weight, which leaves room for inevitable human errors. Others bring packages to a stationary dimensioner, which can be time-consuming if the dimensioner is used for other things and isn’t near the shipping station.

Enter xDIM. The software captures the length, width and height of boxes, irregular items and pallets in just seconds by aiming a rugged tablet at the object to be dimensioned. A specific carrier’s dimensional factor can even be pre-loaded so that the software automatically calculates the DIM weight as well.

Efficiency Meets Accuracy

In the constantly evolving world of logistics, understanding the intricacies of dimensional weight isn't just beneficial—it's vital. While the physical weight of a package does play a role in determining shipping costs, the volume, or dimensional weight, holds significant sway in the calculations. With the disparity in how different carriers calculate DIM weight, the process can quickly become intricate. However, by embracing modern solutions like xDIM, businesses can streamline the dimensional weight calculation process, ensuring accuracy and efficiency.

To get started with xDIM, contact MobileDemand.