How to Calculate Density for LTL Freight Costs

How to Calculate Density for LTL Freight Costs

How to Calculate Density for LTL Freight Costs    


Shippers need to know how to calculate density for LTL freight costs because many carriers use freight density along with actual weight to price LTL shipments. Calculating freight density may sound like a task for a math whiz, but it’s quite simple to do. If you know the weight and dimensions of your freight, you can calculate the density. 


Density = Shipment Weight / Total Cubic Feet


Below we’ll break down how to calculate the density for LTL freight costs into five easy to follow steps. But first, let’s explore what freight density is and how it’s used in generating shipping rates.


What is Freight Density?


Freight density measures the weight of a shipment relative to its size. In other words, a shipment with low density will weigh very little compared to the size, while something with high density weighs a lot compared to the size. For example, a pallet of tightly packed bricks will have high density, and a package of Styrofoam peanuts will have low density.

Density LTL shipping Wisconsin

Along with other factors such as handling requirements, fragility, hazardousness, and liability, density is used to identify freight class. The classification is used to determine shipping costs and is included on the Bill of Lading.  

freight density illustrated LTL shipping Wisconsin

5 Steps to Calculate Freight Density


Density calculators can help in the calculation of freight density, but it’s always good to know how to figure it out on your own too.


Step 1: Measure length, width and height of the packaged freight for each unit/piece in inches.  Measure each dimension at the longest point as this is what the dimensional scanners LTL carriers employ will do when they audit!


Step 2: Multiply the three dimensions together to get the total cubic inches.


Step 3: Divide total cubic inches from step two by 1,728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot) to get the cubic feet.


Step 4: Weigh the shipment.


Step 5: Divide the weight by the total cubic feet from step three. The result is your density or pounds per cubic foot.


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