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Freight Density in LCL or FCL Shipping

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Freight Density in LCL or FCL Shipping

We all understand the word “density,” but used with freight might baffle many. But imagine you are moving overseas, or maybe you really are? Anyhow, when planning an international move from the USA to a new country, you first want to know how much it costs to ship your home items. 

Naturally, you will consider the actual weight of household goods, but surprisingly, your mover or the freight forwarder will base the pricing on the density instead. So what is it, and why does it matter in the freight shipping industry? 

What is Freight Density?

Freight density is a term to denote the space your household items occupy in FCL (Full Container Load) or LCL (Less than Container Load) relative to their weight. In other words, the freight company will charge you for the dimensional weight. The higher the density, the less space your items occupy in a shipping container (e.g., books, bricks). On the other hand, lower-density shipments are lightweight but occupy a lot of space (e.g., ping-pong balls).  

Freight density is one of the 18 elements in Freight Class, ranging from 50 to 500. As a rule of thumb, the higher the freight class, the higher the shipping cost. 

Why Does Shipment Density Matters?

The exact cause of why most freight shippers shift from weight to freight density lies in a rising demand for freight shipping across e-commerce and a lack of track drivers. We all know this aphorism “Time is Money.” It seems like “space is money” is an important concept, so carriers don’t want to lose space and, consequently, money. 

How to Calculate Density

To figure out density, you need to find out the cubic feet of your load by multiplying your shipment’s length, width, and height in inches. Then, the total cubic inches should be divided by 1,728. You will have the cubic feet of your shipment. Lastly, divide the weight in pounds by total cubic feet. The result is the density. This number will determine the classification of your shipment.  

How It Works With LCL (Less than Container Load)

Let’s assume you are moving personal belongings via LCL. The total weight of household items is 1,500 lbs. Your total shipment is 60’ tall, length 48’, and width 48″. So, 60 x 48 x 48 =3/1728 gives you a volume of 80 cubic ft. Then you take your weight of 1500/80 to give you a density of 18.75. This would be in the 70 freight class. See the table below.

DensityFreight Class
Less than 1 400
More than 1, but less than 2300
More than 2, but less than 4250
More than 4, but less than 6175
More than 6, but less than 8125
More than 8, but less than 10100
More than 10, but less than 1292.5
More than 12 but less than 1585
More than 15, but less than 22.570
More than 22.5, but less than 3065
30 or greater60

Once the density is calculated and a freight class determined, the information about that will be entered in the Bill of Lading (BOL). 

Is Freight Cost Always Based on Density?

The freight cost is not always based on density. In fact, it depends on the freight forwarder; some are freight density-based, while others charge per kg. For some other shipments, the best approach is based on actual weight. 

The higher the density, the less space it takes in the container, and your classification is lower. This reduces the rate for every 100lbs you ship. Besides, densely packed items are less prone to damage. At SDC International Shipping, we always make the utmost of the cube space. We don’t want you to pay for space that isn’t utilized. That is why dimensional weight involves the space occupied by moving boxes, including their weight. 

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Freight Density in LCL or FCL Shipping

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