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What is volumetric weight?

The volumetric weight of a shipment is a measure commonly used in the transport and logistics industry that takes into account both the dimensions and the weight of the goods to be shipped.

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A simple way of looking at this is that one cubic metre of gold weighs about 19 tonnes – but one cubic metre of water weighs only one tonne. Clearly, it will cost more to ship the gold than the water.

In general, the cost of a shipment is determined by:

  • The volumetric  weight for shipments of voluminous but relatively lightweight goods
  • The actual  weight when the goods are heavy but relatively small.

It is always the higher value of the two which is used as the chargeable weight. 

How is the volumetric weight calculated?

As a general rule, the volumetric weight of the goods is calculated using the following formula.
VOLUMETRIC WEIGHT = VOLUME (m3) x CONVERSION FACTOR (m3 / kg)

It is valid for air, sea, rail and parcel transport, but in the case of road transport it is only applicable when the goods are stackable

 

What is the chargeable weight of a shipment?

The chargeable weight is the greater of the volumetric weight and the actual weight.

Type of freight  Stackable y/n  Example conversion factor 
Road  y  333 kg / m3
Road  n  1800 kg / load metre (LDM*)
Air
n/a  167 kg / m3
Sea
(less than container load)
 n/a  1 tonne (1000kg) / m3
Rail
(less than container load)
 n/a  600 kg / m3
Parcel
 n/a  200kg / m3
The above are examples; they may vary according to origin/destination.

*How do I calculate the volumetric weight for non-stackable goods sent by road freight?

In this case, the height is not taken into consideration, as nothing can be stacked on top of the goods. 

Provided the goods do not exceed the height of the load space in the truck, then it is the load metres (LDM) which determine the volumetric weight. The width of a truck’s loading space is 2.4 metres.

The calculation is:

LDM = (LENGTH (m) x WIDTH (m)) / 2.4 (m)

VOLUMETRIC WEIGHT = LDM x CONVERSION FACTOR (LDM / kg)

Examples

Road freight

  1. Let’s assume you have 1 europallet , loaded with stackable goods 100cm high and weighing 500kg.

A europallet measures 120cm x 80cm.

Start by calculating the volumetric weight:

VOLUMETRIC WEIGHT = VOLUME (m3) x CONVERSION FACTOR (m3 / kg)

1.2 x 0.8 x 1 x 333 = 319.68 kg

Now compare the actual weight (500 kg) with the volumetric weight (319.68 kg).

The greater of the two will be the chargeable weight.

The chargeable weight of this shipment will therefore be 500 kg.


2. 1 europallet with non-stackable goods. Height 110 cm and weight 500 kg.

Start by calculating the volumetric weigh, using load metres because the goods are not stackable:

LDM = (1.2m x 0.8m) / 2.4m = 0.4

VOLUMETRIC WEIGHT = LDM x CONVERSION FACTOR (LDM / kg) = 0.4 x 1800kg = 720 kg

Now compare the actual weight (500 kg) with the volumetric weight (720 kg).

The greater of the two will be the chargeable weight.

The chargeable weight of this shipment will therefore be 720 kg.

 

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