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Vital Freight Measurements: 4 Things You Might Not Know

Vital Freight Measurements: 4 Things You Might Not Know

There are four vital freight measurements to keep in mind when shipping freight. The last thing anyone wants to receive following a shipment is a billing adjustment, so you’ll want to be precise with your measurements. Managing or owning a business is a lot of work, and you’re probably looking for ways to streamline your shipping. Most small companies prioritize controlling freight spending, managing their time, and keeping customers happy. When shipping your products, you want to know that it gets where it needs to be without any issues. You may not know the ins and outs of freight shipping, but we can help! Below are four tips you might not know about vital freight measurements and how getting these wrong can result in adjustments at the end of your delivery.


4 Things Go Into Vital Freight Measurements


Getting the weight right when booking a shipment is essential, but other equally important things go into freight measurements. It includes these four vital freight measurements:

  • Actual weight

  • Dimensional weight

Actual Weight


Actual weight is the fully packaged weight of your shipment, as weighed on a certified shipping scale, such as at a public weighing station. If you ship several times a year and your packages typically weigh less than 5,000 pounds, you might consider purchasing a shipping scale.

If buying your own scale is out of the question, you can usually get freight weighed at a local junkyard, a shipping depot or a warehouse. Call them first for permission and to schedule a time when you can use their freight scale. You can also Google “public freight scales near me” for additional options.

Getting the actual weight correct before booking your shipment is absolutely necessary. Carriers weigh and inspect every shipment that they handle, so contradicting information about your shipment’s details results in a billing adjustment.


Dimensional Weight


Dimensional weight, also called DIM weight, comes into play when the actual weight is low—dimensional weight bases weight on the volume of the package.

To calculate dimensional weight, the physical volume of the package (height x length x width in inches) is divided by a factor called the divisor, which is established by the carrier.

In general, UPS uses a divisor of 139 for daily rates and 166 for retail rates. Here’s an example of how DIM weight is used.

Let’s say a UPS rate package has an actual weight of 29 pounds and is 15 inches long by 20 inches wide by 18 inches high. That makes the volume of the package 5,400 cubic inches. Divide the volume by the rate divisor of 139, and you get a DIM weight of 38.84 pounds, rounded up to 39 pounds. So, the billable weight of the package would be 39 pounds because dimensional weight is always used when it is more significant than the actual weight.

Some freight carriers use DIM weight. If you are going to consider a page that uses DIM weight, you need to ensure you get the actual weight right and the package’s height, width, and length. TIP: Always round up to the next whole inch for each of your measurements!


Accurate Measurements


Remember, while you need an accurate weight for your shipment, you also need accurate measurements. As mentioned before, inconsistency between the shipment details you provide and what the carrier records results in costly billing adjustments after the shipment is completed.

If your shipment is crated, measuring is straightforward. Simply measure the height, length, and width. In the case of fractions of inches, always round up to the next whole inch. If your shipment is palletized, measure the width and length of the pallet rather than the item itself. Don’t forget that the item being shipped cannot extend beyond the edges of the pallet. Measure a straight line from the cargo’s highest point above the pallet going straight down through the pallet to the floor. That’s your height.

If you measure accurately, you’ll be in good shape. As with measuring a crate, always round up to the next whole inch for each of your measurements.




Density has always been important in freight shipping because dense cargo doesn’t waste space. That’s why the denser a commodity is, the lower the freight class and the lower the cost to ship.

Density is calculated to determine freight class when the cargo does not have a predetermined freight class as well as by density-based carriers to calculate the shipping cost. You want to remember that density is determined by:

  • The actual weight of the packaged cargo

  • The length, width and height of the crated or palletized freight

Getting your measurements and weight right will help you fill out a quote form more accurately and help you determine what your freight shipping costs could be.


Keeping It Simple for Better Shipping


If you do all of the following, you will simplify your freight shipping as much as possible and significantly reduce the risks of receiving a dimension or weight-based billing adjustment.

  • Density matters. Package your cargo as densely as possible so that it takes up as little room as necessary. The smaller the package, the better.

  • Use a certified freight scale to get the actual weight of your packaged freight. If there is more than one package, weigh them each individually.

  • Get accurate measurements by measuring the length, width, height, and weight of your properly packaged cargo, remembering to always round up each measurement to the next highest number. If there is more than one package, measure them each individually.

What Do You Do Now?


Now that you’ve got your actual weight, package measurements, density, and freight class, how does this information help you select the carrier with the best rate and service for you without having to worry about a billing adjustment down the road?

The answer to that question is to get in touch! Once you have those measurements, our shipping agents can help you work through the multiple quotes you received when you ran your instant rate quote. They will be able to point out things such as “Based on the measurements of your cargo, we can probably get you a better deal through a density-based carrier instead of one that will use freight class.”

As a small business owner, having a trusted shipping partner who ensures your shipping strategy is streamlined and optimized saves you time and money. It provides you have the right solutions for your business.

Working with a 3PL like FreightCenter gives you access to shipping experts on all types of products, from hazardous materials to auto parts.

Have cargo ready to be shipped and accurate freight measurements at hand? Let us help you find the perfect carrier for your shipment. Get an online quote or work with one of our shipping experts at 800.716.7608.

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