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:
- Multiply 12 x 12 x 13 = 1,872.
- Next, divide the total by 194. 1,872/194=9.65.
- Round up the result to the next whole number to get the dimensional weight of the package. 9.65 = 10 pounds.
- 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
September 19, 2009
Warehouses that ship small parcels are different than the other types of shippers that I have discussed so far. They ship a much higher volume of packages, from hundreds to thousands of parcels a day. They can be manufacturers, distributors, or third-party logistics companies (3PL). A 3PL is a company that provides outsourced logistics services (more about 3PL’s in a future post).
Small parcels are packages that weigh less than 150 pounds and are typically shipped with UPS, FedEx, DHL, Regional Carriers ( Lone Star Overnight, Eastern Connection, OnTrac,), and the US Post Office. Parcel shippers may also be Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shippers or full truckload shippers. The way parcels are processed is very different than LTL shipments. Each parcel has a separate tracking number and label. A LTL shipment is usually a pallet with many boxes and shrink-wrapped. The pallet is shipped as a single unit.
Companies that ship small packages send them directly to consumers (business to consumer or B2C) or to businesses (B2B).
Examples of B2C shippers include the following:
- books (Amazon.com)
- apparel and accessories(LandsEnd, Zappos)
- gift baskets and mail order (Harry and David)
- sporting goods (Callaway, TaylorMade)
- electronics (Best Buy)
- medical supplies (Liberty Medical)
- computers (Dell, Apple)
- drugs, vitamins (CVS,GNC)
Examples of B2B include the following:
- industrial supplies (Grainger)
- pharmaceuticals (Merk)
- automotive supplies (Michelin)
- office supplies (Staples)
- fasteners, bolts, rivets (Fastenal)
- electrical components (Westinghouse, Allied)
- industrial valves (Asco, Kingston)
- industrial chemicals (Dow, BASF)
Because of the sheer volume of packages that a typical warehouse sends, these shippers tend to be very sophisticated. Throughput and accuracy are the most important attributes that they look for in processing. Features that warehouse shippers look for include the following:
- Multiple user processing
- Integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
- Business rules
- Error checking
- Mode optimization
- Integration with material handling systems, such as conveyors, scales, label printers
- International processing capabilities
I will be discussing many of these software features in future posts, so stay tuned.