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What is the volumetric weight of a parcel as opposed to the actual mass and how is this determined?
The volumetric weight, also known as the dimensional weight of a parcel pertains to a pricing technique used for commercial freight transport which is also applied by courier services and postal companies. It uses an estimated weight that is calculated from the length, width and height of the package.
Historically, shipping costs have been calculated using the gross weight in kilograms or pounds. However, by charging only by weight, lightweight, low density parcels are rendered as unprofitable for freight carriers due to the amount of space they occupy either in a truck, aircraft or on a ship in proportion to their actual weight. Therefore, the concept of volumetric weight has been adopted by the global transportation industry as a uniform means of determining a minimum charge for the cubic space a package occupies.
In actuality, volumetric weight represents a calculation of a theoretical weight of a parcel. The theoretical weight is the weight of a parcel at a minimum density which is determined by the freight carrier and if the parcel is below this minimum density, then the actual weight becomes irrelevant since the freight carrier will then charge for the volume of the parcel as if it were of the chosen density; in other words, what the package would weigh at the minimum density. Still, the volume used to calculate the volumetric weight may not be completely representative of the true volume of the parcel. In this instance, the freight carrier will measure the longest dimension of each of the three axis criteria (X, Y, Z) and use these measurements to determine the parcel volume. Should the parcel be in the shape of ia right-angled rectangular box then this will be equal to the true volume of the parcel. But, if the package is of a different shape of any other kind, the volume calculation will be more than the true volume of the parcel.