volume weight

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    In the complex world of shipping and logistics, understanding weight concepts and their implications is crucial. At Hipofly Shipping Company, we want to help demystify some of these key terms and processes for you. In this article, we’ll cover everything from defining volumetric weight, explaining how to calculate it, highlighting its management, and discussing the affected industries. We’ll also share insights on how Third-Party Logistics Providers (3PLs) help save on volumetric weight costs, and the importance of balancing dimensional weight versus actual weight in cargo transportation. Furthermore, we’ll delve into the importance of optimizing packaging to minimize volume weight for cost-effective transportation and differentiate between volume weight and gross weight.

    We recognize the importance of each of these aspects in the successful operation of your business, and it’s our mission to help you navigate these complexities with ease and confidence. Stay with us as we unpack these topics, offering you a clearer understanding to aid in making effective business decisions.

    What is volume weight?

    “Volume weight”, also known as “volumetric weight” or “dimensional weight”, is a pricing technique used by shipping companies. It reflects the package’s density, which is the amount of space a package occupies in relation to its actual weight. In general, dense packages cost less to ship, relative to their size, than less dense packages.

    Here’s the basic reasoning behind the volumetric weight: Shipping costs are determined not only by the weight of the package, but also by the amount of space it occupies on the transport vehicle. This is especially significant in air transportation, where planes have strict limits on both weight and volume. If a shipping company were to charge only by weight, it would lose money on large, light packages that take up a lot of space on the plane, relative to their weight.

    Shipping companies calculate volumetric weight and compare it to the actual physical weight of the package, and the greater of the two is used to calculate the shipping cost.

    How to calculate volume weight?

    Calculating the volumetric weight for different types of freight is done with a similar process, but the dimensional factors (or divisors) used may differ based on the type of transportation.

    For most major shipping companies, the calculation involves multiplying the length, width, and height of the package to determine the cubic size, then dividing by a dimensional factor to find the volumetric weight. The actual physical weight and the volumetric weight are compared, and the higher of the two is used to calculate the shipping cost.

    Here’s a detailed breakdown of the calculation process for different freight types:

    Air Freight: Air freight often uses a dimensional factor of 5000 (for metric measurements). For example, if you have a package that is 50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm and weighs 2 kg:

    Volumetric weight = (50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm) / 6000 = 20.833 kg

    In this case, you would be charged for 20.833 kg, the volumetric weight, because it’s higher than the actual weight.

    Sea Freight: Sea freight typically uses a dimensional factor of 1,000,000 (for metric measurements) because sea freight has less restriction on space compared to air freight. If you’re shipping a lightweight but large item that is 200 cm x 200 cm x 200 cm and weighs 20 kg:

    Volumetric weight = (200 cm x 200 cm x 200 cm) / 1,000,000 = 8 m³

    Here, the weight of the shipment isn’t typically a concern, but the space (volume in cubic meters) it occupies is. Thus, you’d be charged based on 8 m³ rather than the actual weight.

    Rail Freight: Rail freight calculation can vary depending on the carrier and country, but a common dimensional factor used is similar to sea freight (1,000,000 for metric). If you have a large but lightweight item, 100 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm and it weighs 10 kg:

    Volumetric weight = (100 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm) / 1,000,000 = 1 m³

    In this case, you would be charged for 1 m³, the volumetric weight, because it’s higher than the actual weight.

    Remember, the above are examples and the dimensional factor might vary from company to company. It is always best to check the specific calculation method and the dimensional factor used by your chosen shipping company. Also, while these examples use centimeters and kilograms, some companies might require measurements in inches and pounds, which would also change the dimensional factor.0.83

    Please note that while these are potential advantages and disadvantages, they may not apply in every case. Hipofly, for example, can assist with many of the potential disadvantages, such as providing efficient logistics to mitigate long lead times, and offering assistance to navigate customs regulations.

    volume weight

    How can you manage volumetric weight?

    Managing volumetric weight effectively is all about optimizing the packaging and selecting the appropriate shipping option. As an expert from Hipofly, here’s how I would advise you to handle this for each type of shipping:

    Optimizing Air Freight Operations: Volume Weight's Impact on Efficiency

    Optimizing air freight operations is essential for improving efficiency and controlling costs. The concept of volume weight, also known as dimensional weight, plays a significant role in this optimization.

    Air freight is an expensive mode of transportation, and efficiency plays a vital role in keeping costs manageable. Carriers have to consider not just the weight of a package, but also the space it takes up on the aircraft. This is where the concept of volume weight comes in. If a shipment is light but bulky, it could take up a disproportionate amount of space compared to its weight, limiting the cargo an aircraft can carry.

    Let’s use an example of shipping a shipment of balloons. Suppose you need to transport 10,000 deflated balloons from New York to London for a promotional event. The actual weight of the balloons is minimal, say 5kg. However, the box containing the balloons is large, measuring 100cm x 100cm x 100cm.

    Using the standard IATA formula for calculating volume weight in air freight:
    Volume Weight = (Width cm x Length cm x Height cm) / 6,000 Volume Weight = (100cm x 100cm x 100cm) / 6,000 = 166.67kg

    Despite the actual weight of the balloons being only 5kg, the air freight carrier will charge you based on the volume weight of 166.67kg. This is because the large box size takes up valuable cargo space in the aircraft.

    By understanding the impact of volume weight, businesses can better optimize their packaging strategies. In this example, using multiple smaller boxes or vacuum packing could reduce the volume and thus the volume weight, leading to significant cost savings.

    Further, understanding the role of volume weight can help businesses choose the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transportation. For light but bulky items, sea or rail freight may be a more cost-effective option.

    Volume Weight and Sea Shipping: Streamlining Containerized Cargo

    In sea shipping, the concept of volume weight plays a significant role in streamlining operations and efficiently utilizing the space within shipping containers. As sea shipping typically involves large quantities of goods, maximizing container space can lead to cost savings and improved efficiency.

    Unlike air freight, where cargo space is at a premium, sea shipping allows for the transport of large, bulky items. However, this doesn’t mean space isn’t a concern. Every square inch of a container that isn’t filled is potential revenue lost for a shipping company and potential wasted costs for a shipper.

    Let’s consider an example: you are shipping large but lightweight outdoor patio umbrellas. Each umbrella weighs 5kg, and you’re shipping 200 of them. The actual weight of the shipment is therefore 1,000kg (200 umbrellas x 5kg each).

    The umbrellas are bulky, though, with each taking up 1 cubic meter of space (100cm x 100cm x 100cm). Therefore, the total volume of your shipment is 200 cubic meters (1 cubic meter per umbrella x 200 umbrellas).

    In sea freight, volume weight is often calculated using the following formula:

    Volume Weight (kg) = (Width cm x Length cm x Height cm) / 1,000,000

    For one umbrella, the volume weight would therefore be (100cm x 100cm x 100cm) / 1,000,000 = 1,000kg. So for the shipment of 200 umbrellas, the volume weight would be 200,000kg.

    This means you would be charged based on a weight of 200,000kg, even though the actual weight of the shipment is only 1,000kg. In this case, the volume weight is 20,000% greater than the actual weight.

    So while the umbrellas are lightweight, they are bulky and take up a lot of space in a shipping container. By understanding the implications of volume weight, shippers might look at ways to reduce the packaging size, or perhaps even consider different types of umbrellas that are less bulky but still serve the same function.

    Understanding the concept of volume weight helps shipping companies and shippers alike to optimize their containerized cargo, leading to more efficient and cost-effective sea shipping operations.

    Rail Freight Efficiency: Unveiling the Role of Volume Weight

    Volume weight plays a significant role in rail freight operations, much like it does in air and sea shipping. The concept becomes particularly crucial when shipping lightweight, bulky items, as it helps optimize the space utilization in a railcar and improve operational efficiency.

    Let’s consider the example of shipping a consignment of Styrofoam coolers for a beverage company. Imagine you need to transport 500 coolers, each weighing 2kg. The total actual weight of the shipment would then be 1,000kg (500 coolers x 2kg each).

    Each cooler, however, is quite large, occupying a space of 60cm x 60cm x 60cm. The total volume of your shipment is therefore 108 cubic meters (0.216 cubic meters per cooler x 500 coolers).

    For rail freight, we can use a similar volume weight formula as with sea freight:

    Volume Weight (kg) = (Width cm x Length cm x Height cm) / 1,000,000

    So, for one cooler, the volume weight would be (60cm x 60cm x 60cm) / 1,000,000 = 216kg. For the shipment of 500 coolers, the volume weight would be 108,000kg (216kg per cooler x 500 coolers).

    In this scenario, the rail freight company would charge you based on a weight of 108,000kg, despite the actual weight of the coolers being only 1,000kg. Here, the volume weight is 10,800% greater than the actual weight.

    The high volume weight reflects the fact that while Styrofoam coolers are lightweight, they occupy a significant amount of space in a railcar. This case demonstrates how crucial it is for shippers to understand the implications of volume weight. The company might, for instance, consider flat-pack coolers that can be assembled on arrival, reducing the volume of the shipment and therefore the cost.

    In conclusion, a keen understanding of volume weight can greatly help businesses optimize their cargo for rail freight, leading to improved logistics efficiency and substantial cost savings.

    Which industries are affected by volumetric weight?

    Making the right choice between dealing directly with a manufacturer and going through a wholesaler is key to running a successful business. Each option has its unique pros and cons, and your decision should be based on your business needs.

    Let’s consider a real-life example of two clients of Hipofly to illustrate the difference.

    First, we have a large electronics retailer based in the US. They have a high demand for their products and a well-established logistics setup. They chose to work directly with a Chinese manufacturer to source their products. The benefit of this direct relationship is that they can negotiate prices, ensure product consistency, and customize their products according to their needs.

    On the other hand, we have a small independent clothing boutique in France. They have a diverse product line with lower quantities per product. For them, it made more sense to go through a wholesaler. This allowed them to source a variety of styles without the obligation of a high minimum order quantity, as would typically be required by a manufacturer.

    Based on these examples, let’s outline the advantages and disadvantages of each:

    Industry Impact of Volumetric Weight
    E-commerce E-commerce companies ship a wide variety of products, and many lightweight, bulky items can lead to high shipping costs based on volumetric weight. Packaging optimization is crucial to save costs.
    Electronics Many electronics are relatively small and heavy, so they often have a higher actual weight than volumetric weight. However, large, lightweight items like flat-screen TVs can be more expensive to ship due to their large size.
    Furniture Furniture items are typically large and often not very heavy relative to their size, so the shipping cost is often determined by volumetric weight. Companies may need to disassemble items or optimize packaging to save costs.
    Apparel Clothing is relatively lightweight for its volume. Therefore, the shipping cost can be higher based on volumetric weight, especially for large quantities. Efficient packing and folding can reduce costs.
    Pharmaceuticals Most pharmaceutical products are small and dense, resulting in a higher actual weight than volumetric weight. Shipping costs based on actual weight are typically lower than they would be based on volumetric weight.
    Automotive Parts Many parts are heavy for their size, leading to shipping costs based on actual weight. However, lightweight, bulky items like bumpers can result in higher costs based on volumetric weight.
    Food & Beverages These products vary widely. Canned goods are heavy for their size, while snacks like chips are lightweight but bulky. Shipping costs can be based on either actual or volumetric weight, depending on the product

    These are generalizations and the specific characteristics of the products and packaging in each industry can vary. Additionally, the selected mode of transportation (air, sea, rail) can also significantly affect the impact of volumetric weight on shipping costs.

    Therefore, understanding and optimizing volumetric weight is critical for businesses in these industries to control shipping costs and ultimately affect their bottom line.


    Third-Party Logistics Providers (3PLs) play a crucial role in helping businesses optimize their shipping and logistics processes, including saving on volumetric weight. Here are some ways 3PLs can help:

    • Optimized Packaging: 3PLs can advise on and implement optimized packaging solutions. They can help determine the smallest possible packaging that still protects the product, reducing the overall volume and, therefore, the volumetric weight.
    • Negotiating with Carriers: Given the volume of business they do with shipping carriers, 3PLs often have the ability to negotiate better rates, including potentially more favorable terms when it comes to volumetric weight pricing.
    • Freight Consolidation: 3PLs can consolidate shipments from various clients going to the same destination, which can lead to more efficient use of space and lower costs related to volumetric weight.
    • Selection of Transport Mode: 3PLs can assist in deciding the most cost-effective mode of transport (air, sea, rail, road) based on the characteristics of the goods, including their volumetric weight.
    • Use of Technology: 3PLs often use advanced technology and software that can calculate the most efficient ways to package and load goods, further reducing costs associated with volumetric weight.
    • Customs and Documentation: 3PLs handle customs and documentation which, while not directly related to volumetric weight, can add to the overall cost and complexity of shipping goods. By handling these aspects efficiently, they help save time and avoid potential fines and delays.

    For example, suppose you’re an e-commerce company shipping large quantities of various products worldwide. By partnering with a 3PL, you can benefit from their expertise and services. They could optimize the packaging for each of your products to minimize the volume and calculate the most cost-effective mode of transport based on the volumetric and actual weights. They can also negotiate better rates with carriers due to their volume of business, further reducing your costs.

    Remember, while getting the best price is important, it should not compromise the quality of goods or business ethics. As your shipping partner, Hipofly is committed to assisting in your endeavors to ensure a smooth, affordable, and ethical business process.

    volume weight

    Dimensional Weight vs. Actual Weight: Balancing Factors in Cargo Transportation

    Understanding the balance between dimensional (volume) weight and actual weight is crucial in cargo transportation. Both play a key role in determining the cost of shipping.

    Dimensional weight reflects the package’s density, which is the amount of space it occupies in relation to its actual weight. Carriers use this measurement to ensure they’re being compensated for the space a package occupies, not just its weight. If a package is large but lightweight (low density), it can take up a significant amount of space on a transport vehicle without contributing much to the total weight.

    On the other hand, the actual weight is simply what a package weighs when placed on a scale. For denser items, the actual weight will usually be the factor that drives shippingcostst.

    Shipping costs are often based on whichever weight is greater – dimensional or actual. Let’s consider a hypothetical example:

    Imagine you’re shipping two packages via air freight:

    A box of feathers that weighs 10kg and measures 100cm x 100cm x 100cm. Its dimensional weight using the IATA standard is (100x100x100)/6000 = 167kg.

    A box of books that also weighs 10kg, but measures only 30cm x 30cm x 30cm. Its dimensional weight is (30x30x30)/6000 = 4.5kg.

    For the box of feathers, the dimensional weight (167kg) is greater than the actual weight (10kg). Therefore, the shipping cost is calculated based on the dimensional weight. However, for the box of books, the actual weight (10kg) is greater than the dimensional weight (4.5kg), so the shipping cost is based on the actual weight.

    Statistics show that in a hypothetical air freight scenario, around 20% of shipments might have their cost determined by dimensional weight due to low-density goods, while the remaining 80% could be charged based on actual weight due to higher-density items. This ratio can vary greatly based on the specific types of cargo involved and the industry sector.

    Understanding this balance allows shippers to optimize their packaging and choose the most cost-effective transportation method, ultimately improving the efficiency of their logistics operations.

    Factor Dimensional Weight Actual Weight Example
    Definition Weight calculated based on the dimensions (volume) of a package. Physical weight of the package including the contents and any packaging materials. A large, lightweight box of balloons would have a higher dimensional weight, while a small, dense box of books would have a higher actual weight.
    Calculation Method Length x Width x Height / Dimensional Factor (varies with carrier and shipping method). Determined using a standard scale. For a package with dimensions 100cm x 100cm x 100cm, and a dimensional factor of 5000 for air freight, the dimensional weight would be 200kg. The actual weight might be much lower if the package is filled with light material.
    Impact on Shipping Cost Higher dimensional weight can lead to higher shipping costs if it exceeds the actual weight. Higher actual weight will increase shipping costs if it exceeds the dimensional weight. If the dimensional weight of a package is 20kg and the actual weight is 10kg, the shipping cost will be calculated based on the 20kg dimensional weight. Conversely, if the actual weight is 30kg, the shipping cost will be based on this higher actual weight.
    Packaging Considerations Optimal packaging aims to minimize volume to reduce dimensional weight. Packaging needs to balance protection of contents and weight. Heavier packaging materials can increase the actual weight. Lightweight but sturdy materials would be preferable for packaging large, lightweight items to minimize dimensional weight. Conversely, for heavy items, durable packaging is essential, even if it adds a little to the actual weight.
    Impact on Mode of Transport Large packages may require more expensive modes of transport due to high dimensional weight, even if they are not heavy. Heavy packages may require stronger modes of transport even if they are not large. A large, lightweight piece of furniture may be expensive to ship by air due to its high dimensional weight, while a small but heavy package of machinery parts may be expensive to ship by any method due to its high actual weight.

    Optimizing Packaging: Minimizing Volume Weight for Cost-Effective Transportation

    Understanding how to optimize packaging to minimize volume weight can drastically enhance cost-effectiveness across all transportation modes – air, sea, and rail freight. Here are ten ways to achieve this:

    • Evaluate Packaging: Start by reassessing your packaging. Use only what’s necessary to protect the item. Over-sized boxes lead to increased volume weight.
    • Utilize Space Efficiently: Package your items carefully to use space efficiently. Void fill should be minimized while ensuring safe transit.
    • Custom Packaging: Consider investing in a custom packaging that perfectly fits your product’s dimensions. This can significantly reduce the dimensional weight.
    • Consolidation: When possible, consolidate shipments. Sending several smaller boxes can often be more expensive than one larger one.
    • Cube Out Containers: In sea freight, “cubing out” (filling up) a container efficiently can result in significant cost savings.
    • Stackable Packages: Use stackable pallets or boxes. They use space more efficiently, reducing the overall dimensional weight.
    • Redesign Products: If possible, consider redesigning your products to be more compact or lighter, reducing both actual and dimensional weight.
    • Density Matters: In some cases, a denser product (like a box of books) can cost less to ship than a less dense product (like a box of feathers) of the same actual weight.
    • Regularly Update Product Dimensions: Make sure you have accurate measurements for your products. Misreported dimensions can lead to unexpected dimensional weight costs.
    • Leverage Technology: Use software solutions to optimize packaging. They can identify the best packaging methods based on the product’s size and weight.

    Consider an example of a business shipping large, lightweight items by air. By redesigning their packaging to reduce box size by 30%, they could potentially see a similar reduction in volume weight and, therefore, shipping costs.

    However, awareness and understanding of these strategies are not universal. According to a hypothetical survey, only about 60% of shippers are well-versed in optimizing packaging to minimize volume weight. That means 40% of shippers could potentially be paying more due to a lack of knowledge. Thus, there’s significant potential for more shippers to use these strategies to cut costs and enhance logistics efficiency.

    Volume Weight vs. Gross Weight: Understanding the Key Differences

    Volume weight, often referred to as dimensional weight and gross weight are two crucial terms in shipping logistics. Understanding the difference between them is key to efficient and cost-effective shipping.

    Volume Weight refers to the space that a parcel occupies in relation to its weight. It’s used by carriers to charge for the space that a package occupies rather than just its actual weight. This is especially crucial for bulky but light items. The standard formula to calculate volume weight for air freight is (Width cm x Length cm x Height cm) / 6,000.

    Gross Weight, on the other hand, is the total weight of the goods, including the weight of the packaging. It’s the actual weight of the shipment that you get when you put it on a scale.

    The shipping cost is usually calculated based on whichever weight is greater – the gross weight or the volume weight.

    For example, if you’re shipping a large but lightweight item like a lampshade with a gross weight of 5kg, but its dimensions result in a volume weight of 15kg, you will be charged based on the volume weight. Conversely, if you’re shipping a small but heavy item like a lead statue that weighs 10kg, and its volume weight is only 3kg, you will be charged based on the actual, or gross weight.

    According to a hypothetical statistical analysis of shipping logistics, nearly 20% of shipments might have their shipping cost determined by volume weight rather than gross weight. This suggests that understanding the difference between volume weight and gross weight can significantly impact the total shipping cost for about one in five shipments. Understanding this difference is essential for shippers to optimize their packaging and choose the most cost-effective mode of transportation.


    As we conclude this comprehensive overview on behalf of Hipofly Shipping Company, it’s clear that understanding and managing weight considerations, particularly volumetric or dimensional weight, is a critical aspect of shipping and logistics. Volumetric weight helps to ensure a fair and effective charging method, taking into account the size of a package, not just its actual weight. The method to calculate it varies depending on the mode of shipping—be it air, sea, or rail—and has direct implications on the cost and efficiency of transportation.

    We’ve seen how various industries, from e-commerce and electronics to furniture and pharmaceuticals, are affected by volumetric weight in different ways. In each case, strategic management of packaging and shipment can significantly impact the overall shipping costs.

    The role of Third-Party Logistics Providers (3PLs) is pivotal in optimizing these processes, offering services such as optimized packaging, freight consolidation, and use of advanced technology, all aimed at reducing costs related to volumetric weight.

    Balancing dimensional weight versus actual weight is a critical consideration in cargo transportation, with both being key factors in determining the overall shipping cost. Equally, optimizing packaging to minimize volume weight leads to more cost-effective transportation. Finally, distinguishing between volume weight and gross weight is essential in understanding their individual impacts and how they influence the total cost of shipping.

    In conclusion, the intricacies of volumetric weight have substantial effects on various industries, and successful navigation of these complexities can lead to optimized operations and significant cost savings. At Hipofly, we’re here to help guide you through these complexities and support your shipping needs in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.


    Volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, is a calculated weight for shipping purposes that considers the size of a package, not just its actual physical weight. It’s important as it allows for a more equitable charging method, especially for lightweight packages that take up a significant amount of space.

    Volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of a package to find its cubic size and then dividing by a specific dimensional factor. This factor varies depending on the shipping method (air, sea, rail) and the specific regulations of the carrier.

    Key strategies for managing volumetric weight include using the smallest packaging that can safely contain your goods, optimizing the packaging process, and considering the most cost-effective mode of transportation. Also, working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can help optimize these processes.

    Many industries are affected by volumetric weight, including e-commerce, electronics, furniture, apparel, pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, and food & beverage industries. The specific impact varies based on the characteristics of the products and packaging in each industry.

    3PLs like Hipofly can help save on volumetric weight through services such as optimized packaging, freight consolidation, negotiation with carriers for better rates, selection of the most cost-effective transport mode, use of advanced technology for package optimization, and handling of customs and documentation.
    Dimensional weight considers the size of a package while actual weight is its physical weight. In cargo transportation, carriers charge based on whichever is greater, making it important to optimize both.
    Packaging can be optimized by selecting the smallest size that can safely contain the goods, using lightweight but durable packaging materials, and employing advanced packaging techniques and technologies to maximize the use of space.

    Volume weight is a calculated weight that considers the size of a package while gross weight is the total physical weight of a package including the goods and any packaging materials. Carriers use the greater of the two to calculate shipping costs.

    Understanding volumetric weight is essential because it directly affects the cost of shipping goods. By effectively managing volumetric weight, businesses can optimize their shipping processes, reduce costs, and improve their bottom line. At Hipofly, we are committed to helping our clients understand and optimize these aspects of their business.

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