# How is Cubic/Volumetric Weight Calculated?

One of the biggest challenges when sending freight is understanding how freight prices are calculated. We are all familiar with going to the post office and asking for a price to send a parcel overseas or interstate. The parcel is then weighed right there and then in front of your eyes and you paid the price of postage.

For the most part, at a typical Australia Post Office the process has remained the same. Standard postage costs are calculated based on the weight of the item and not the dimensions. It’s the same when purchasing a small item online. Typically, there may be a flat fee for parcels of a certain size and weight, which would increase based on the quantity of items and the speed of delivery – Express Post versus a Standard Parcel Delivery service, for instance.

However, for a business relying on sending or receiving freight from interstate warehouses, distribution hubs or from international suppliers, it’s a very different story – because the cost of transportation is calculated very differently.

Try our Volumetric Freight Calculator here.

The Australian freight industry is complex, it can be difficult to understand how the final price for freight is calculated. Freight charges are calculated using complex algorithms – so it pays to have some knowledge of the extra charges based on size, weight or other events outside of the normal delivery procedure, and how theses extras can increase the price.

## Cubic weight conversion factor.

The cubic weight conversion factor is a numeric value mapped to a mode of transport such as air freight, express freight services etc.

- Air freight: 167
- Express freight: 250
- International Courier: 200
- General Freight: 333
- Sea Freight: 1000

The cubic conversion factor was introduced to help freight carriers maximise the space on their trucks, vans, ships, trains and planes and create a fair and equitable pricing structure.

These days, the base cost of a shipment, often referred to as the ‘carrier cost’ is determined by;

**Dead weight:**

Total weight of the items being shipped (contents and packaging combined). Measured in kg or pounds**Cubic weight**(can also be called volumetric weight)**:**

Total volume of the package(s) (length x width x height), multiplied by the conversion factor.

## How many kilograms are there in a cubic metre?

The accepted weight of an average 100cm x 100cm x 100cm package (1 m3) is 1,000 kilograms (1000kg).

A ‘cube’ is a 3-dimensional equal-sided shape defined by its length, width and height (e.g. 100cm x 100cm x 100cm = 1m^{3}). The total volume is calculated by multiplying all three sides together, (L x W x H).

Try our Volumetric Freight Calculator here.

## An easy way to understand volumetric weight.

When we refer to the volume of a box, carton or pallet etc, we refer to just how much physical space it occupies.

Sometimes, when we need to send toys or clothes packed inside a box, the size of the box matters more than the weight of the items. That’s where volumetric conversion comes in.

To figure out how much space a box occupies, we need to measure the all three sides, the length, width and height. Now we have these measurements (the best way to measure is in centimetres), simply multiply them all together to calculate the volume.

However, if the box is really big and lightweight, it may take up more space than its actual ‘dead’ weight. So we use a special number called the volumetric conversion factor to figure out how heavy the box is based on the amount of space it takes up (M^{3)}.

The most common volumetric factor is 167 and is used to calculate freight costs for air freight. This means we multiply the volume of the box by **167** to calculate the ‘volumetric’ weight. So a really big box that doesn’t weigh very much might cost more to ship than a smaller box that’s heavier, because the larger box takes up more space in the plane’s cargo hold.

Try our Volumetric Freight Calculator here.

## Example 1.

## Sending by Air Freight.

Calculating the cost of sending a 10kg box by ‘general freight’.

- Actual weight of the box: 10kg
- Length = 90 cm (or 0.90 of a metre)
- Width = 40 cm (or 0.4 of a metre)
- Height = 15 cm (or 0.15 of a metre)
- Sending by: general freight with a conversion factor of 333

An oblong-shaped box measuring 90cm long by 40cm wide and 15cm high (90x40x15) has a physical weight (dead weight) of 10kg is being shipped by road as ‘general freight’. Looking at the conversion factors above, 333 is the number used in the formula to calculate the cubic weight.

Using the 0.9m x 0.4m x 0.15m calculation, the total volume of the box is 0.054 m^{3}.

Now we have calculated the cubic metre volume, it’s time to calculate the cubic weight.

(Cubic Volume) x (Cubic Conversion Factor for ‘general freight’)

0.054 * 333 = 17.98kg

Cubic Weight = 17.98kg

Owing to the Cubic Weight Conversion factor of 333 being applied to the total volume of the box, the weight of the shipment has been recalculated as 17.98kg and not the actual weight of 10kg. So you can see the price paid for sending this box by a general freight road service would be higher than expected, assuming the cost per kg is $1.50. Using the same calculation as example 1, the recalculated volume weight of 17.98kg means the base freight cost is $26.97.

## Example 2.

## Sending by Air Freight.

Calculating the cost of sending a 10kg box by ‘air freight’, where the volumetric weight is less than the dead weight.

- Actual weight of the box: 10kg
- Length = 90 cm (or 0.90 of a metre)
- Width = 40 cm (or 0.4 of a metre)
- Height = 15 cm (or 0.15 of a metre)
- Sending by: air freight with a conversion factor of 167

In this example, the box has a physical weight (dead weight) of 10kg and is being shipped by air freight’. We will use the 167 conversion factor to calculate the cubic weight.

Using the 0.9m x 0.4m x 0.15m measurements, the total ‘cubic volume’ of the box is 0.054 m^{3}.

Now we have the cubic metre volume, it’s time to calculate the cubic weight.

**Formula used to calculate volumetric weight.**

(Cubic Volume) x (Cubic Conversion Factor)

0.054 * 167= 9.018kg

Cubic/volumetric Weight = 9.018kg

Owing to the Cubic Weight Conversion factor of 167 being applied to the total volume of the box, the weight of the shipment has been recalculated as 9.018kg and not the actual weight of the box which is 10kg. In this example, the cubic/volumetric weight was calculated at 9.018kg, which is less than the actual 10kg weight of the box and contents. In this case, the base cost for this shipment would be (10kg x price per kg). Assuming a base cost of $1.50 per kg, the freight cost would be $15.00.

As you will see in the next example, there is a very different outcome – see if you can spot why!

## Example 3.

## Sending by Express Freight.

- Actual weight of the box: 12.5kg
- Length = 75 cm (or 0.75 of a metre)
- Width = 60 cm (or 0.6 of a metre)
- Height = 25 cm (or 0.25 of a metre)
- Sending by: express freight with a conversion factor of 250

### 1. Calculate the volume of the box.

Multiply the length x height x width = 0.75 x 0.60 x 0.25 = **0.1125 m ^{3}** (Cubic volume in meters cubed)

### 2. Convert the volume to cubic weight.

To convert 0.1125 m^{3} to cubic weight multiply the cubic volume by the express freight conversion factor.

Formula: (package volume x general freight cubic conversion factor)

0.1125 x 250 = 28.12kg

The recalculated cubic weight of the box is now 28.12kg and is used by the carrier to calculate the base shipping charge.

This is where is gets confusing for many, because the physical weight of the box was 12.5kg and now converting the dimensions of the box to a cubic weight, the box has a chargeable weight of 28.12kg.

With a per kg cost of $1.50 (as an example) and an original weight of 12.5kg, the ‘volumetric’ weight has been recalculated and the new base shipping cost is now $42.18.

### What happens when the weight of the box is heavier than the cubic weight?

In this example, let’s assume the box had a weight of 31kg with the same dimensions as the above example (0.75 x 0.60 x 0.25 = 0.1126 m³). The chargeable weight is 31kg because the actual weight of the box (with items inside) is greater than the 28.12kg volumetric weight.

Try our Volumetric Freight Calculator here.

### Considerations.

This is a good opportunity to point out that when the cubic/volumetric weight of a box, carton or whatever you’re shipping exceeds a certain weight, then there can be extra charges added by the carrier. If the delivery address is classed as ‘residential’, then it’s quite possible there could additional charges for delivery to a residential property where the item is greater than 25kg in weight.

Again, this is not a One World Courier charge, it is a charge that will be added by a carrier.

Suggested further reading on ‘how to avoid extra freight charges’.

## Example 4.

## Cubing a pallet and sending by express freight.

Pallet freight is one of the most popular methods of transporting large quantities of goods in boxes, cartons etc, so it’s important to:

1. measure the pallet correctly

2. and make sure the goods on the pallet fit within the pallet area.

Protruding boxes or freight extending over the edge of the pallet may result in a carrier refusing to pick up the shipment.

Calculating the volume of the pallet also means measuring the pallet from the ground, which includes the actual height of the pallet.

Example.

- Actual weight of the pallet (contents and pallet base): 520kg
- Length = 120 cm (or 1.2m)
- Width = 120 cm (or 1.2m)
- Height = 165 cm (or 1.65m)
- Sending by: general road freight with conversion factor of 333

### 1. Calculate the volume of the pallet and contents.

Multiply the length x height x width = 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.65 = 2.376 m**³** (Cubic volume or meters cubed m**³**)

### 2. Convert the pallet volume to cubic weight.

To convert 2.376 m**³** to the cubic equivalent weight in kilograms, multiply the cubic volume by the general road freight conversion factor.

Formula: (volume x general road freight conversion factor)

(2.376 x 333) = 791kg

791kg is greater than the actual weight of 520kg. The chargeable weight is now 791kg. Although in a lot of cases the flat rate per pallet rate is used to total up the freight cost.

Note: when sending a pallet by air freight, the total volume of the contents of the pallet and the pallet itself are used to calculate the volumetric weight. Let’s assume you’re sending a 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.4 (L x W x H) pallet, where the pallet dimensions are 1.2 x 1.2 and the items on the pallet measure 1 x 0.9 x 1.4. The freight price is calculated on the outer dimensions of the pallet itself and not the dimensions of the items contained on the pallet. Volume for air freight and even some road, rail freight is calculated using the pallet L x W x H + the height of the items on the pallet. Remember the average height of a standard pallet in Australia is 150mm. When obtaining a pallet quote, always remember to add the height of the pallet itself

Try our Volumetric Freight Calculator here.

### The golden rule

The golden rule here is to choose the most appropriate type of packaging (box, carton, crate, pallet etc) to suit the goods you’re shipping.

Are the goods inside the carton fragile, or are of a delicate composition such as instrumentation or electronic goods? Protecting the goods inside a box/carton etc from damage means adding a soft buffer of polystyrene beads, or plastic erap, paper and cardboard. Always bear in mind that the greater the volume, (the space your goods occupy), then the greater the risk of freight costs increase due to comparing ‘dead weight’ of the shipment compared to the ‘cubic weight’ conversion.

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