Cost Savings Tip: Inches can Save You Thousands!

When using air freight, you have to know the difference between “actual” weight and “dimensional” weight.

The “actual” weight of the shipment is easy: simply the gross weight of the material + packaging + pallet. It’s the entire weight of the shipment.

The “dimensional” weight of the shipment is a bit more confusing, because it takes into account the volume (LxWxH) of your shipment and converts that into a weight, which is given as lbs. or kgs. The method for calculating “dimensional” weight is given at the bottom of this article.

The airline then takes the greater of the “actual” or “dimensional” weight and that becomes the “chargeable” weight. That is, the greater weight becomes the basis for their cost to you.

This concept becomes especially important when you are air freighting bulky material such as lawn furniture, baskets, etc. One might ask “who would air freight such low value items??”

Believe me, companies do this quite often.

That was our predicament: we had products that were very bulky and, unfortunately our ocean mode would not get the product fast enough to the destination. We HAD to use air freight.

The packaging, however, was designed for the normal mode of ocean, where size really doesn’t matter because we use large 20′ or 40′ containers!

Knowing that we would be using air freight for the foreseeable future, we looked into the design of the current packaging and made the change as you see below.

“Insignifcant”, you might say. “Wow, you took out that middle pallet with a 6 inch height.”


In fact, since these were bulky products, the actual weight of the products was far less than the dimensional weight.

The actual weight of the top set of boxes was 82kgs.
The dimensional weight of the top set of boxes was 110.6kgs.

By removing the 6 inches, which made up the middle pallet, we reduced the dimensional weight from 110.6kgs to 101.4kgs.

We saved 9.2kgs of chargeable weight!

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when we ship 10 pallets at one time using air freight, we paid $5,654 per shipment.

With the removal of the 6 inches, we paid $5,157.

A savings of $497 per shipment.

Again, not a big deal until you consider we had to do that once per week for 3 months!

Total savings of $5,964 over the 3 month period for a reduction of 6 inches in the height of our packaging!

Can you find any examples within your company? Let us know!

LWL Airfreight2

Now, here are the “Dimensional” Weight Calculations. Typically, the methods to determine “dimensional” weight for international air shipments are as below:
L x W x H (inches) / 166 = Dimensional Weight (lbs)
L x W x H (inches) / 366 = Dimensional Weight (kg)
L x W x H (cm) / 6000 = Dimensional Weight (kg)

Example: 30″ x 24″ x 22″ = 15,840 / 166 = 96 lbs. (round up to the nearest pound)

You can also use this easy dimensional weight calculator.

Click the following link for a PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION of this article: LWL002 Cost Savings Tip Inches can Save You Thousands

About Lenny

Many years of experience in a Fortune 1000 companies, especially in the logistics and I.T. areas of manufacturing companies. Through process improvements and the use of many of the tools mentioned here, I have been able to identify and implement savings opportunities worth up to $10 million. I hope that some of these real-life stories, suggestions and tools can help you!
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