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08 Sep

How to Measure Cargo Dimensions Properly

Cargo shipping has undergone significant changes in the past decade. Having to adapt to the consumer’s ever-changing needs rapidly, freight companies have robustly digitized their operations and expanded to suit the needs of their growing and expectant clientele.

As freight shipping grew, the client needed to understand an industry they now constantly utilize. With the increase in online shopping and paying for shipping, the average online customer is now diving into the fascinating world of cargo shipping and logistics.

Whether you’re shipping fast fashion or moving container loads of products, knowing your cargo dimension is vital as it will determine the price to transport your item.

What is Cargo?

Cargo, also known as freight, refers to goods or produce transported from one place to another by water, air, or land. Initially, the term “cargo” referred to goods being loaded onboard a vessel. These days, however, cargo is used to group all types of goods, including those carried by rail, van, truck, or intermodal container.

Though cargo means all goods on board a transport vehicle, it does not include items such as personnel bags, interests in the storage, equipment, and products to support the transport carried onboard. Cargo transport is mainly for commercial purposes for which the carrier issues an airway bill, bill of lading, or other receipts.

A Brief History of Cargo Container Dimensions

The concept of loading merchandise onto trucks, moving onto trains or ships, and then loading them back onto trucks grew in prominence over the last 60 years. Shipping containers’ dimensions were revolutionized by a small-time truck hauler named Malcolm McLean from Maxton, North Carolina.

McLean significantly improved this process by placing merchandise into containers so that entire containers can be lifted and loaded from the chassis. The next step in creating ease of approach was standardizing the shipping container dimensions for easy handling by trucks, trains, ships, and ports worldwide.

This standardization of shipping container dimensions was the catalyst that led to a global change in shipping logistics and world trade. It allowed manufacturers to load goods at their factories and ship directly to stores and warehouses without unloading and transferring their cargo along the way. This meant that manufacturing processes could be located far away from customers but still provide customers with an incredible variety of low-cost goods from across the globe. Today over 5,000 freighters are transporting cargo to over 14 million containers to ports all over the world.

How to Ship Freight

Whether you’re using freight services for personal or business needs, you will have to acquire the know-how for correct freight measurement. Learning how to measure your shipments accurately by being able to determine the cubic feet and density by hand or with a dimension calculator will ensure that your shipments stay within your budget. The best start to selecting your freight measurement is classifying your shipment.

Parcel shipping is for individual packages that you can quickly ship through carriers such as UPS, DHL, or FedEx. Packages that are heavier than 150 pounds and bigger than 108 inches in length or 165 inches in length plus girth (2x width + height) are usually shipped as freight in cargo boxes. These numbers are just to provide context and are in no way definitive.

Another good way of deciding what method to transport your shipment is by its shape. If you’re shipping is large, bulky, or oddly shaped, it is better to be shipped as cargo. Smaller, more manageable items are better suited to be sent as packages. Shipments on pallets are also considered to be freight.

Freight shipments are loaded into trailers or ocean containers with the aim of packing as much as possible to capitalize on space. To ensure this, every square inch measurement must be precise.

The Importance of Measuring Freight Properly

If a freight company receives an inaccurate measurement and your shipment doesn’t coincide with what they were expecting, your item will need to be remeasured leading to an inevitable delay. Furthermore, different dimensions equate to adjusted rates, resulting in a different final price. The company may also have to rearrange the whole shipment, leading to further delays.

Space is the foundation of transportation for cargo carrier shipments and, as such, is measured by cube, space, and density. Below are the steps to accurately measure your item:

  1. Measure the length (L), width (W), and height (H) of your item or items in inches. For irregularly shaped objects, measure them as if they’re in a rectangular box. Use the extreme points to get the length, width, and height.
  2. Multiply L x W x H to get the cubic inches of your shipment. If you have multiple items, repeat this step for each and add all of them together.
  3. Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728 to get the cubic feet of your shipment.
  4. Weigh your shipment, and then divide the weight by the cubic feet to get the density or the ratio of weight to volume.
  5. You can also enter your measurements into a dimension calculator if you don’t want to do the math by hand.

In some instances, you may also need to know pallet dimensions. The standard pallet size in the U.S. is 40” by 48”. The height of your pallet shipment should be measured from the bottom to the highest point. When measuring the length, you’ll need to include anything that is hanging off the pallet.

How To Calculate Weight or Measurement for Ocean Freight

Ocean Freight Chargeable weight is based on the greater actual weight in metric tons (kilograms/1,000) or dimensional weight (cubic meters). This only applies to breakbulk (or less than container load) ocean freight.

To determine the dimensional weight, first, determine cubic feet and then convert to cubic meters (as indicated below):

  1. L x W x H (in inches)/1728 = cubic feet
  2. Cubic feet x .02832 = cubic meters

Ship Smarter with Ground Force Logistics

Whether you already have your dimensions, looking to transport cargo locally or internationally, Ground Force Logistics is North America’s premier logistics company for all your freight needs. Ground Force is a freight transportation firm founded in 2005 with one purpose in mind – to offer innovative logistical solutions throughout North America while providing top-tier service and a commitment to excellence.

Get your Free Quote now to start shipping smarter.

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