Measuring Cubic Feet for LTL Shipments

Posted by Becca Soard on July 24, 2017 - 8:03 AM
How to calculate cubic feet

Why cubic feet matter for LTL freight

Due to changes in freight profile (like bulkier items) and other less-than-truckload (LTL) trends, it’s more important than ever for ArcBest® customers to provide accurate details about their shipments when getting a quote. While weight and freight class are still necessary pieces of information, cubic footage is now an additional pricing factor. Use the steps below to accurately measure your freight and calculate its cubic footage. 

Using a cubic footage calculator

Cubic footage is a way of determining the volume of an object (or the space it occupies). An easy way to find it is to use a calculator. ArcBestSM customers can utilize our online cube calculator to determine cubic footage for each item in an LTL shipment. Simply enter your measurements for each piece, and indicate whether multiple items have the same dimensions to quickly see how much space the shipment will occupy. To find out how the calculator works, or to do the math yourself, follow the formula below.

How to find cubic feet

Calculating the volume of a shipment is easy — all you need are the item’s length, width and height measurements, and the cubic foot formula:

Length (L) x Width (W) x Height (H) = Cubic Foot Measurement

If you’re calculating cubic feet for a 2 ft. square box, the formula would work like this:

2 ft. x 2 ft. x 2 ft. = 8 ft3

But what do you do for freight that’s palletized or isn’t a perfect square? In these instances, you’ll need to make sure to use the correct dimensions. Unitized or palletized freight measurements will need to include the pallet, skid, crate or brace, and irregularly shaped freight must use the longest measurement for each side. This ensures all space is accounted for in the calculation. Non-palletized cylindrical items work slightly differently.



Cubic foot conversion

If you measure a shipment in inches, yards or meters, you’ll need to perform an additional step to get an accurate result. Start by doing the calculation as shown above, and then do a unit conversion:

  • Inches. Divide the final number by 1728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot)
  • Yards. Multiply the final number by 27 (a cubic foot is 1/27 of a cubic yard)
  • Meters. Multiply the final number by 35.31 (the number of cubic feet in a cubic meter)

For example, a rectangular item that measures 2.5 meters long, 1 meter wide, and 1 meter tall would be 88.28 ft3(2.5 x 1 x 1 =2.5 and 2.5 x 35.31=88.28).

Once you have your items in the correct units, you can add the results together to get a total shipment calculation. For example, if you’re shipping two pallets that measure 48 inches x 40 inches x 24 inches and 42 inches x 42 inches x 27 inches, respectively, the shipment’s total cubic footage would be 54.23 ft3. Here’s why:

48 x 40 x 24 = 46,080
46,080/1728 = 26.67

42 x 42 x 27 = 47,628
47,628/1728 = 27.56

26.67 + 27.56 = 54.23

Keep in mind that while you can use the total cubic footage to get a freight quote, it’s always best to provide your carrier with the dimensions for each individual piece.

Get an LTL quote

Another way to find the cubic footage of your shipment is to get an LTL freight quote online. Simply enter the dimensions of your freight, and the volume will be automatically calculated. Note that if incorrect measurements are entered, your price is subject to change.

For more information about measuring your shipments, or to get a quote, contact 800-610-5544.

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