Cubic Capacity: The Do's and Don’ts When Shipping LTL

Shipping Less than Truckload (LTL) can save you money, time and headaches, but only if you ensure you’re following some simple guidelines. Accurately measuring cubic capacity and knowing the rules – and potential penalties – around it will make your shipping experience seamless.

First, let’s look at exactly what LTL shipping means.

LTL shipping is sharing a truckload when you don’t have enough freight to fill an entire truck.

It’s a much more cost-effective way to ship products due to the carrier’s ability to utilize their network of terminals and equipment to consolidate freight traveling along the same pathways. LTL shipping is typically used for freight between 100 and 10,000 pounds.

The carrier can offer shipping rates well below what you would pay for full truckload shipping or parcel shipping. And if you’re a regular customer, you can negotiate contract pricing based on quantity and frequency over a period of time.

LTL is also fast – you can expect delivery times within days in many cases, making it an ideal choice for many.

It’s extremely important to know a few things when shipping LTL particularly related to cubic capacity, as this is one critical measurement taken into consideration and one that will affect your bottom line.

Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when shipping LTL related to cubic capacity.

Cubic Capacity

DON’T Err When Measuring and Weighing Your Freight

In addition to freight class and weight, the cubic foot measurement is also required for pricing accurately.

Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to ensure you know exactly the cubic capacity of the item(s) you are shipping. The biggest reason for this is so you have an accurate quote on what it will cost, but also to ensure you avoid any penalties involved should your measurement be incorrect.

Cubic capacity can be calculated using the height, length, and width of an item. The simple formula is: Height x Width x Length = Cubic feet measurement.

When shipping items that aren’t perfect angles, you must take the longest measurement of each side. Additionally, if an item is on a pallet or crate, these items need to be included in the measurement. Essentially the cubic capacity must include all the freight being shipped.

For assistance use this free online cubic feet calculator.

DO Understand Minimum Cubic Capacity Rules

Most carriers impose minimum cubic capacity rules to ensure fairness of rates for each shipper. In many situations, carriers will require shipments that are 750 cubic feet or more and less density than six pounds per cubic foot to be adjusted with a minimum rate charge.

This charge and exact calculation can vary from carrier to carrier, so check with your carrier to ensure you understand this at the time of booking. It’s a question that will easily be answered by the carrier and included in the quote, provided you are giving accurate weight measurements and cubic capacity, of course.

DON’T Exceed the Limitation Listed on the Shipment’s Bill of Lading

When a shipper places the order and asks for a quote, a bill of lading is created with all the details. The bill of lading is a legal document and acts as a receipt. Everyone involved in the shipping process can refer to the bill of lading for the most important information about the shipment.

A carrier will often include a size limitation listed on the bill of lading, based on the volume, weight and dimension entered when a shipment is booked. This is why you must be sure the cubic capacity and weight are accurately reported. If the size of the freight is larger than what is listed on the bill of lading, you risk a cubic capacity violation.

If the shipper incurs a cubic capacity violation, it could mean significantly increased costs.

DO Try to Ship Less than 12 Linear Feet to Save the Extra Fee

For most carriers, shipments that are longer than 12 linear feet incur what is called an “extreme length fee.” This is due to ease of shipping shorter freight. If it is at all possible to reduce the linear footage if your shipment is less than 750 cubic feet, you are only changed the cubic capacity fee, which is much less.

Obviously, you can’t control how some items are packaged, but if you can, try to adhere to this guideline and you’ll save yourself some valuable dollars.

DO Work with A Carrier Who Can Help Manage the Process

Shipping LTL can be a complex process. It’s important to choose a carrier that can help manage everything from start to finish. LTX helps consolidate all the logistics – from contracts to claims management if needed. This allows our shipping partners to focus on their business rather than the logistical details of shipping.

Understanding Cubic Capacity