When your company ships goods to customers, size and weight both matter. These dimensions affect prices all along the transportation chain. But one element of size and weight considerations is often not well understood. This aspect is the difference between actual weight and dimensional weight.
What are these, and how can you take charge of them to help reduce shipping costs? Use this short guide to help you get started.
What Is Actual and Dimensional Weight?
Actual weight is an easy thing for any shipper to measure. You take your product in its final packaging as it would be loaded onto a truck and you weight it. This is the actual weight, and it includes everything from the goods to the protective wrapping to the outside boxes or cases. Some shipping services use this in order to come up with a price for transportation.
Dimensional weight is a little trickier. This is a combination of the dimensions — length, width, and height — of the final product in its package along with an assigned weight.
To find this assigned weight (and a corresponding price), the transporter calculates the dimension divided by a certain standard divisor. This divisor number is specific to each company and may or may not be published. To calculate an item’s dimensional weight, for example, you might follow this equation: L x W x H / 10000 x 10.
Why Is Dimensional Weight Important?
You might rightly ask yourself why such a calculation for dimensional weight is necessary. The answer is that shipping services noticed years ago that some packages took up a lot of extra space in their cargo containers and holds but weren’t actually very heavy. Underweight but oversized packages, then, lost money when actual weight was the only standard for determining the price.
An additional calculation to assign a standard number to packages based not only on weight but also on size was invented. Keep in mind that while this practice began with air freight services — where cargo space can be very limited — it has grown to other options as well. You are likely to encounter dimensional weight rules when using ground transportation as well.
How Can You Find the Ideal Balance?
As a shipper, your goal should be to make the actual weight and dimensional weight of your goods be as similar as possible. If you can’t achieve perfect symmetry, the secondary goal is for the actual weight to be just slightly higher than dimensional weight so that you don’t pay for something you don’t use.
You have a variety of options to achieve parity between the two calculations. You might be able to reduce the package size by altering the type or amount of packing material or changing the shape of the product inside. If your package is smaller, your dimensional weight will be lower. Some shippers may also be able to package more goods together in order to better use their weight and size ratios.
Another good option is to work with a specific transportation service whose calculation method and divisor you know. By moving your shipments through known vendors and understanding their calculations, you will be able to better target the perfect combination of weight and size.
How Can You Learn More?
Want to know more about dimensional weight and how to adjust your practices to achieve the lowest cost? Start by working with an experienced freight service. Tri Star Freight System, Inc.. has aided shippers of all sizes and types for more than 30 years. Call today to speak with a shipping professional, and learn how dimensional weight might affect your goods.