Volumetric weight is one of the most important factors in shipping. It directly affects the cost of shipping and the carrying capacity of a vehicle. It is crucial for individuals and businesses to understand volumetric weight so that they can manage their costs of shipping.
Individuals can reduce the cost of shipping by cutting down the volumetric weight. Businesses can use volumetric weight for delivery management at different stages of the supply chain.
What is Volumetric Weight?
Volumetric weight, or dimensional weight, is a unit of measurement to determine the shipping volume of a package. This is because shipping companies use volumetric weight to determine the charges for delivering a package. This unit tells the shipping company how much space a courier package will occupy.
How to Calculate Volumetric Weight for Shipping?
Volumetric weight is based on the package's height, width, and length. The product of these units is divided by a constant. This constant depends on the measurement system such as centimetres or metres.
Formula to Calculate Volumetric Weight:
(Length x Width x Height) / Volumetric Divisor = Volumetric Weight
The unit of this output depends on the unit of measurement for physical dimensions. For instance, if you are measuring the length, width, and height in inches. The measurement for volumetric weight is in pounds (lbs). If you are measuring physical dimensions in centimetres, the volumetric weight will be in kilograms (kg).
The value of the divisor also depends on the measurement system. Typically, if you are measuring the physical dimensions in metres, the divisor is 5,000. If you are measuring them in inches, the divisor will be 139. This value also changes from carrier to carrier. Some courier companies would use different divisors for different services.
Let’s understand this better with an example. Here we will calculate the volumetric weight for a package with the following dimensions:
Length: 20 cm
Width: 40 cm
Height: 12 cm
The volumetric weight of this package will be:
(20 x 40 x 12) / 5000 = 1.92 kg
The volumetric weight of the above package will be 1.92 kg. This will differ from the actual weight of the package. But, it is a more efficient unit for shipping.
Why do Shipping Companies use Volumetric Weight?
Courier companies need volumetric weight to understand how much space a package will occupy. Most of the time, a freight vehicle gets occupied to the brim without reaching its maximum weight capacity.
This is because light items can get packed in large boxes. This means that a package occupies a lot more volume than its weight. Let’s understand how these two differ from each other.
Volumetric Weight vs Actual Weight
Volumetric weight represents the space a parcel will occupy in a shipping vehicle. The actual weight represents how much load the vehicle has to carry. The relationship between these two depends on the size of the package and its contents.
The volumetric weight of a large package with light contents will be higher than its actual weight. And, the volumetric weight of a small package with heavy contents will be lower than its actual weight.
Courier companies will usually charge whichever has the higher value. This is because each package deducts from a courier vehicle’s capacity. Each shipping vehicle has a limited capacity for volume and weight. This capacity decides the maximum number of packages it can carry in one trip.
The volumetric weight deducts from the maximum storage capacity. While the actual weight deducts from a vehicle’s maximum carrying capacity. Hence, a courier company will charge the value that deducts more from a vehicle’s capacity.
Volumetric weight also helps make amends for irregularly shaped packages. Two packages may have the same weight, but different dimensions. In such cases, they would deduct equally from a vehicle’s carrying capacity. Let’s assume that both packages in the below image are equally heavy.
But, both these packages will occupy different volumes in a vehicle. The volumetric weight considers the maximum value of each dimension. So the volumetric weight of the package on the left (box-shaped) will be lower than the one on the right.
This way, volumetric weight helps shipping companies decide how much space a package will occupy on a vehicle, regardless of its shape. This determines the cost of shipping the package.
How to Use Volumetric Weight to Reduce Shipping Costs?
You can reduce the shipping charges by reducing the volumetric weight. Here are a few ways to cut down your volumetric weight:
- Find a box that fits:
The best way to reduce volumetric weight is to find a box that perfectly fits the contents. This means that the packaging is not unnecessarily large. If you reduce the dimensions, you can reduce the volumetric weight. A tight package also ensures that the contents do not shake or crash within the package during shipping.
- Avoid unnecessary fillings
Protective filling such as cushion foam or packaging peanuts can take up significant space in a courier. These not only increase volumetric weight but also the package’s actual weight. Instead, you can use packages that are lined with foam or bubble wrap to protect the contents.
- Pack more in a package
If you cannot reduce the size of the box, it is better to take advantage of the additional space. You can stuff more content in the box and make the most of the shipping charges you will pay for the volumetric weight.
It is important to remember that you do not reduce the integrity of the package while reducing the volumetric weight. If a package needs certain dimensions to protect its contents during shipping, you should not temper with those dimensions to save shipping charges.
Volumetric weight plays an important role in determining several aspects of shipping. Most important among these are the shipping charges. This unit is especially important if you are shipping packages with low-density and large sizes.
You can try to reduce the volumetric weight of the package as long as it does not reduce the integrity of the package. Or you can choose a reliable shipping partner that offers competitive shipping rates to courier your packages.