Dimensioning and weighing systems have come a long way over the years. Before cubing systems were conceived, measuring products and boxes in a warehouse was an arduous task done manually with tape measures and rulers. Manually measuring products with tape measures and rulers is not only prone to inaccuracies, but also slows down performance in the warehouse. Utilizing dimensioning and weighing systems is key to enhancing performance in the warehouse and also throughout the supply chain.
Dimensioning and weighing systems can provide numerous advantages such as maximizing storage space, increasing sustainability in the warehouse and on the road, and managing and decreasing freight costs.
These systems better facilitate warehouse managers in their load planning process, which is essential to maximize storage space and make slotting decisions easier. When receiving food products that need to be managed and stored in the warehouse, knowing the products’ dimensional information and weight information will help determine the best placement of inventory.
By verifying the correct weight it also confirms that the exact product(s) were placed into the shipping carton, says Sean O’Farrell, market development director of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Dematic. “If the weight is over [or] under, then the shipping carton is sent to an audit area for resolution by a supervisor,” says O’Farrell.
Moreover, knowing the exact measurements of a product can help food and beverage warehouse managers save costs while maintaining a greener footprint. By identifying the size and weight of individual items in the warehouse, the warehouse staff can choose the best sized package. On the other hand, when a box is ready to be shipped, but isn’t completely filled, it’s essentially the same as shipping air and excess corrugate, which is costly and not environmentally friendly.
“When you load those boxes that aren’t full, that trailer or truck is then full of half filled boxes, so the truck is half filled,” says Randy Neilson, director of sales and marketing for Farmington, Utah-based Quantronix. “You end up sending more trailers and trucks than you need, therefore you’re going to pay more drivers [and] incur a lot more fuel costs because you may need fewer trucks if you have those boxes that are more efficiently filled with product.”
According to Neilson, many carriers including UPS are beginning to charge by size and weight. For instance, if there is a large, lightweight box, carriers will charge by the size of the box because it will take up a significant amount of space in their trucks. With fuel charges continuing to rise, optimizing the weight and space constraints is crucial.
Understanding dimensional weight
The DIM Factor (Dimensional Weight Factor) is a formula used to calculate the dimensional weight of a package. To calculate the dimensional weight in pounds for a domestic shipment in the U.S., multiply (in inches) the length, the width and the height and divide it by a dimensional weight conversion factor of 166. For exporting and importing international shipments, multiply (in inches) the length, the width and the height and divide it by 139.
The DIM weight charge was primarily for air freight in the past, but it’s now being applied to ground shipments as well. Although this is not a new trend, it still has a sizeable impact on the shipment of products.
“By getting the dimensions, you can charge your customer correctly and plan for it so you don’t get back-charged,” says Megan Bobel, segment marketing manager for Columbus, Ohio-based Mettler Toledo. “If there are any inaccuracies by the time it gets to the actual shipper, they definitely are checking the length, width and height that you put down compared to what it actually is, and if there’s a differentiation, they’ll back-charge customers.”