Volumetric Weight

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What Is Volumetric Weight?

The courier industry and carriers, in general, use different methods to assess their shipment methods and the cost of their services. The vast majority provides their services based on either the size of a parcel or its volumetric weight. The first strategy is easy to understand - basically, the bigger the parcel, the more expensive it is to send since it takes up a lot of vehicle space. But what exactly is the volumetric weight and how is it different from the actual weight of a package? How do carriers calculate it and why do they prefer to use this method?

Volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, is a pricing method used to calculate the weight of a parcel. The formula involves multiplying the length, width, and height of a package. Different couriers tend to use different metrics, and they also divide the final figure by 5,000 or 4,000 - this number is known as the dim divisor.

Volume Calculator for Different Shipping Methods

Most carriers, including Packlink shipping partners, such as UPS, DHL, DPD, Hermes, GLS, and more, equate 1 cubic metre with 200 kg (1 cbm = 200kg). Some, like TNT, equate 1 cubic metre with 250 kg (1 cbm = 250 kg). Also, the standard volumetric weight formulas they use are different, depending on their shipping method. Here's how it looks in the cases of air freight, sea freight, and road freight:

  • Air freight: 1 cubic metre = 167 kilograms
  • Sea freight: 1 cubic metre = 1,000 kilograms
  • Road freight: 1 cubic metre = 333 kilograms

Volumetric Weight vs. Actual Weight

The volumetric weight of your parcel is not the same as its actual weight, since it involves using a different formula (length x height x width divided by the dim divisor). For a courier company, the actual weight of your parcel is not the most important factor. What's more important is the amount of space your package will take up in a vehicle. In a nutshell, carriers price the cost for shipping large packages on the size of the box, not the weight. On the other hand, the price for shipping a smaller parcel will be based on the weight, not the size.

Let's take two different parcels to explain it better. The first parcel is a large cardboard box and weighs 5 kilograms. The second is a flat parcel box and weighs 15 kilograms. The courier will compare the volumetric weight to the actual physical weight of a parcel and charge whichever is the greater of the two. This method is also known as billable weight or chargeable weight. As such, you might end up paying more for the delivery of a lighter, but bigger box, since it takes up more vehicle space.

How Do You Calculate Volumetric Weight?

Calculating volumetric weight is simple - you just need to know the formula and follow these steps:

  1. Measure your package. You need to know its three dimensions: length, height, and width.
  2. Multiply your parcel's three dimensions (length x height x width).
  3. Note down the number and divide it by the dim divisor. Every courier company has its dim divisor - most frequently, you'll have to divide the final figure by 5,000 or 4,000, but don't forget to check it every time you use courier services.
  4. The figure you got after step 3 represents the volumetric weight of your parcel. The dimensional pricing parcel quote will be based on the actual weight, provided that the actual weight is more than the dimensional weight.

Keep in mind that while you can run the calculations on your own, you can also look for a volumetric weight calculator online. Many courier and transportation companies give you access to a volume calculator on their websites, allowing you to calculate the dimensional weight of your package yourself.

Why Carriers Use Volumetric Weight?

Your packages and goods are transported by vehicles. Those vehicles, such as a van, a truck, or a plane, have different weights and size capacities. On this basis, companies earn their revenue, and carriers use a weight-to-volume formula. For example, a large parcel box that weighs 5 kilograms may take up a lot of space on the back of a van without it reaching its weight capacity. On the other hand, a flat parcel box that weighs 15 kilograms is heavier than the large box but doesn't take up as much space, leaving plenty of room for other boxes until the vehicle reaches its weight capacity.

As such, carriers use volumetric weight while delivering packages. The formula may differ depending on the carrier and the transportation method they decide to use for shipping.

Can You Reduce the Volumetric Weight of Your Parcel?

You may be worried about the costs of your delivery. With an added confusion of different guidelines and prices provided by various courier companies, it may be even discouraging to send a parcel in the first place. You may also be worried about extra fees you might pay for providing incorrect package details. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent that, and you can even reduce the shipping costs based on the volumetric weight of your parcel.

Most importantly, remember to use the right-sized box to send your goods. If you buy a box that's too big for the contents, you'll pay higher courier rates. If you want to reduce your shipping costs by reducing the volumetric weight of your parcel, you can buy a smaller box. However, you run the risk of damaging what's inside by overpacking or cramming the items to make them fit inside.

Also, remember that not all courier services use volumetric weight to determine the cost of delivery. Volumetric weight calculations apply for parcels that are longer than 100 centimetres. Sometimes, these calculations won't apply in cases of packages under 30 kilograms and less than 100 cm long.

What Are the Benefits of Using Volumetric Weight?

For some people, the term "volumetric weight" might be confusing. You may be wondering, why use volumetric weight and complicate things instead of using the actual weight? The main benefit of calculating your parcel's volumetric weight is that you save money by avoiding any potential fees for declaring invalid parcel weight.

Additionally, it's more cost-effective for both you and the courier company of your choice. As we mentioned earlier, couriers can use either the volumetric weight or parcel size to determine the cost of their services. By choosing the volumetric weight method in certain situations, they ensure you're charged for their services fairly.