What is a DIM Factor?

July 5, 2010

Every shipping department and mailroom needs a measuring tape and a scale. The reason is that in order to calculate the correct postage or shipping charges, you have to know the DIM factor.

A DIM Factor is an acronym for Dimensional Weight Factor. It is a mathematical factor for calculating the dimensional weight of a package. UPS, FedEx, DHL, the US Post Office, and some regional carriers use dimensions as a factor in determining the cost to send a package. For example, the USPS has a DIM factor of 1 cubic foot or 12″ x 12″ x 12″. If a package exceeds a cubic foot in volume, instead of the weight of the package, they use the volume of the package to rate it.

Here are the steps for a 12 ” x 12″ x 13″ package:

  1. Multiply 12 x 12 x 13 = 1,872.
  2. Next, divide the total by 194. 1,872/194=9.65.
  3. Round up the result to the next whole number to get the dimensional weight of the package. 9.65 = 10 pounds.
  4. If the dimension exceeds the actual weight, you would use this number to calculate the shipping charges. So, in this case, even if you had a 5 pound box, (which is what happened to me) you will be charged for a 10 pound box.

For more information on how USPS calculates dimensional rate, click http://www.usps.com/prices/USPS_prices_dw_pop.html

For UPS, click http://www.ups.com/content/us/en/resources/prepare/dim_weight.html#How+To+Measure+the+Cubic+Size+of+Your+Package

For the FedEx dimensional weight calculator, click http://fedex.com/be/tools/dimweight.html

For the DHL dimensional weight calculator, click http://www.dhl-usa.com/IntlSvcs/dimweight/dimweight.asp?nav=Inttools/DimWeiCal

The USPS has a different factor than UPS and FedEx for domestic packages. You should compare rates between carriers based on package dimensions. For USPS, if the result exceeds 1,728 inches, you must use the dimensional weight. For UPS and FedEx, if the result exceeds 5,184 inches, you pay the dimensional weight.

Domestic is different than International. Here are the current factors:

  • Domestic you divide by 194
  • International you divide by 166

Shipping Myth: More Money Does Not Necessarily Mean Faster Service

April 30, 2010

Many of us grew up with the expression, “You get what you pay for.” This was meant to be a lesson to not be cheap. If you buy inexpensive junk, you couldn’t expect it to last long or perform as well. While this may be true in some areas, it certainly is NOT true when it comes to shipping. I can’t tell you the amount of waste that I have seen from shippers, who pay more, sometimes 10 times more, with the false belief that it will get there faster!

I have a peculiar hobby. I love to look at invoices and ask provocative questions. I was reviewing a FedEx invoice of a client the other day and saw the following:

  • A FedEx 3Day Freight shipment from San Francisco to Los Angeles for $745. I asked the logistics manager why he chose FedEx 3Day Freight for this shipment as was told, “We had to get it there in three days and did not want to take any chances. This customer would have been very angry if the shipment was late.” I checked and found that there were several Less Than Truckload (LTL) carriers that would have delivered the same shipment for $125 with a one day guarantee. He paid 6 times more because he thought that by paying more would be faster service.
  • I was in another client’s office and watched this Corporate Headquarters mailroom processing UPS 2nd Air packages. There were 100 packages in a pile on the floor, all being sent UPS 2nd Day Air and I asked why these packages being sent this way. The answer was that they received a corporate discount on UPS 2nd Day Air of 50% and that they wanted to be sure that all their sales people received this package by the weekend. Just for fun (and with permission from my client), I went through the stack and found 40 packages that were being sent in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT). All 40 packages could have been shipped ground and were guaranteed to be there by the end of the next day. (They were shipping on Wednesday and they were guaranteed to be there by 5:00PM on Thursday). The cost for ground was $8.00 per package. Their cost for UPS 2nd Day Air with their 50%, $11 with a guaranteed delivery of Friday—one day longer. So they paid 30% more and wasted over $320 with the false belief that because it was air, it would be faster.

The bottom line is that more money in shipping does not necessarily mean faster service! What can you do about it? Compare prices and delivery. Don’t assume.


7 Best Practices for Saving Money on Shipping in the Mailroom

September 9, 2009

Corporate mailrooms are not only responsible for incoming and outgoing mail, but FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, and couriers. Shipping is very different in a mail center than it is in a warehouse. Shipping managers ship products in cartons or on pallets and the charges are passed on to the customers, so, generally, they don’t worry about budgets. Managers of mailing operations are often frustrated regarding their capacity to control the budget for shipping and mailing expenditures. They are often asked, especially in these economic times, to reduce costs; yet the people that make decisions about how to send an express envelope or choose the service level are not under their control. One of my readers is John Sikorski of Princeton University; he shared 7 of his best practices to save money on shipping in the mailroom. Thank you John!

  1. Education the staff in departments to know which way packages should be sent by holding a shipping seminar for anybody who deals with shipping out packages.
  2. Every time that the university signs a contract with the vendors we do a cost study to see the difference in prices between FedEx, UPS and the USPS.
  3. Establish a cost calculator where staff can go to see which vendor cost less.  We have done this for Federal Express and UPS.  The cost calculator has options that will be true for most of the departments most of time such as Next Day Morning and Afternoon, Second Day Service and Ground Service.  We do mostly commercial address and domestic packages so the shipping calculator is only for the United States.  Within the cost calculator we also put the fuel surcharge that one of the vendors charges the university.
  4. Talk to the vendors to see if there is any new programs that could save money for the university such as flat boxes or envelopes.
  5. Keep informed most vendors have newsletters that are free by e-mail.  I also look for magazine that you can get online they will give you some ideas from other companies and universities.
  6. Join the Postal Customer Council in your area and attend some of meetings that they have during the year to keep up with the changes that occur within the postal service and also networking with the other members at the PCC meet.
  7. Combine all shipments that are going to the same university or college when using UPS in order to save on the shipping cost.