What is volumetric weight and how does it affect shipments?

In the constant quest to reduce operating costs, companies face significant challenges in the area of transportation. Whether you are an e-commerce start-up shipping lightweight packages or a large distributor shipping robust products, it is critical to accurately size and weight your products to minimize the cost of transport and logistics costs and set appropriate shipping rates.

An error in these calculations can result in unnecessary shipping costs or, in the case of companies, in miscalculating costs for their customers. In this sense, volumetric weight (also called dimensional weight or DIM) plays an essential role in shipping logistics.

So if your business operates in this sector, don’t miss this article, where we will explain everything you need to know about volumetric weighing.

What is volumetric weight and what is its function?

Volumetric weight is a measure used to determine the space occupied by a package in relation to its actual weight, and its function is to improve the efficiency of space utilization within transport vehicles, thus preventing large but light packages from costing more than necessary.

How is the volumetric weight calculated?

One of the most commonly used methods of calculating volumetric weight is to multiply the length, width and height of the package, and then divide that result by a number specified by the carrier. The volumetric weight is then compared to the actual weight of the package, and the higher amount is charged.

For example, you have a package that is 50 cm long, 40 cm wide, 30 cm high, weighs 10 kg and the conversion factor is 5,000, the volumetric weight would be:

Volumetric weight = (50 x 40 x 30) / 5,000 = 12 kg

In this case, the volumetric weight is greater than the actual weight, so the shipment would be charged based on the volumetric weight. However, if the conversion factor were 6,000, the volumetric weight would be:

Volumetric weight = (50 x 40 x 30) / 6000 = 10 kg

In this case, the volumetric calculation is equal to the actual weight, so the shipment would be charged based on the actual weight.

However, it is worth mentioning that this strategy doesn’t completely solve the complexity of the volumetric weight calculation, as shippers may encounter various formulas on the market .

For example, many transport operators and parcel services use unique methods that rely on tariff documents with numerous conditions, which presents a significant challenge for companies looking for agile management of their shipments.

Why should volumetric weight be taken into account?

Volumetric weight is an essential aspect to take into account from the moment you start packing goods for transport. Sometimes, through carelessness, products are packed without taking advantage of the available space, resulting in boxes that are too large for the contents they contain. This implies a higher volumetric weight and, therefore, a higher transportation cost, which can negatively affect the budget and competitiveness.

On the other hand, when the product being shipped is not fragile and doesn’t require special packaging, optimizing the available space translates into economic benefits. By making maximum use of the available volume, the volumetric weight and, therefore, the cost of transport is reduced. In addition, it contributes to more efficient resource management and significant savings in the logistics process.

How can volumetric weight be controlled and reduced to save on shipments?

When excessively large boxes are chosen to pack lightweight products, volumetric weight directly impacts shipping costs. Not only would you be paying for the space needed to accommodate the products, but also for the additional air that accompanies them inside the box. This choice can result in a considerable waste of money in transportation costs, whether for a warehouse or an e-commerce business.

Therefore, in order to have control over the volumetric weight and save on your shipments, it is essential to consider the following points:

  1. Use boxes that fit as closely as possible to the size of the products. Avoid large boxes with excess space, as this increases the volumetric weight.
  1. Place products efficiently to minimize empty spaces. Use filler materials to fill those spaces and prevent products from moving.
  2. If it is safe to do so, reduce the size of the products to take up less space.
  1. Consider materials such as plastic or inflatable wrapping instead of heavy cardboard boxes, ensuring that they still protect the products during transport.
  1. Research and compare the volume factors of different carriers, as they may vary. Choose those that offer the most favorable volume factor.
  1. If you ship frequently or in large volumes, try to negotiate special arrangements with carriers to obtain rates based on actual weight rather than volumetric weight.

In summary, through meticulous planning and transparent communication with suppliers and transport companies, it’s possible to mitigate problems and ensure the success of the import process.


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