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In recent years, the process for accurately measuring LTL freight shipments has significantly changed.
Initially, the process for measuring and billing freight was simple: the bigger or heavier a shipment was, the more the customer was charged. Later on, in the 1980s, shipping rates for commodities were determined by what the overnight shipping pioneers Fed Ex called DIM weight - the length x width x height of the shipment.
Basically, when a courier received a shipment, they would determine what the length x width x height is and compare that total to the package’s weight. Whichever was larger - the DIM factor or the package’s weight - was the rate that was charged. While this practice underwent some changes, it became the official standard in 2015 when USPS also started using DIM weights to calculate shipping charges.
But how does it all work?
Today, LTL transporters use dimensioners to determine shipping costs. A dimensioner is a device that measures the volume and weight of objects shaped like a cube, including boxes, packages, cartons, and parcels.
Once the volume of the shipment is determined, a shipping rate is calculated based on the amount of space the item takes up, or how heavy the item is.
The history of LTL freight billing followed this general timeline...
Carriers who use dimensioners have seen significant improvements in shipping efficiency. Before dimensioners, LTL shippers gave customers estimates based on size, mileage, or time needed for transport. The problem with this is that by the time the customer received the final bill, the price may have been different from what was initially quoted.
While there are a number of factors that might cause the initially estimated price to jump up or down, the most common is that the shipments were measured inaccurately.
This is where the dimensioner comes into play. With this device, shippers are guaranteed to provide 100% accurate measurements, which means the shipping estimates given to customers and LTL carriers are reliable and should not fluctuate as much.
Also, dimensioners help with overall efficiency, since LTL’s can plan and load their shipments and thus provide customers with more accurate arrival estimates. This increase in efficiency saves money for LTL carriers.
While some might think that dimensioners lead to customers needing to pay more for shipping, these devices actually offer several benefits to customers. The biggest benefit to customers is that the shipping estimates provided by carriers using dimensioners are accurate.
This means that customers no longer have to be surprised by receiving a bill larger than expected due to inaccurate measurements and other uncontrollable factors.
Before dimensioners, customers had to spend time contacting shippers in frustration to figure out why the rate is more than what was estimated.
Now that you know the benefits of dimensioners in calculating shipping rates, here are a few best practices to keep in mind to ensure the dimensioners work with no issues:
Since dimensioners are measuring devices, they often require adjustments in calibration. By recalibrating a dimensioner when needed, you will be sure that the DIM calculations are accurate. In addition to recalibration, be sure to keep up on routine maintenance as well.
Since many dimensioners are built using software that calculates the shipping rate, it is essential to keep a lookout for any software updates released by the manufacturer. These updates fix errors and other issues, so always be ready to work with the manufacturer to upgrade equipment or software as needed.
Another best practice to consider is setting up shipping profiles using dimensioners. These shipping profiles will hold all of the necessary information for customers who frequently order the same shipments. By having customer info stored in shipping profiles, LTL’s will save time, money, and resources.
If you are a shipper, and haven't been living under a rock the past few years, chances are good that you have heard of dimensioners and things like DIM pricing. Maybe you have even shipped items with the help of a dimensioner?
Using DIM weight processes is one thing. Understanding them is another.
If you are having any trouble understanding DIM pricing and how to best work with it, reach out to our team of experts hear at Redwood Logistics!