How To Calculate Cubic Feet For Shipping

By Jay White

June 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

In the shipping industry, the size of a payload is commonly measured in dimensions known as cubic feet. This is the space inside a container whose length, width and height are all one foot long. It is important to know the size of the payload to ensure that it will fit inside the transport container or truck. Before packaging a payload for shipment, contact the shipping company to determine the amount of space available on the truck or inside the container. This will help you to determine whether you need to split the payload into more than one package. The shipping company can also provide you with guidance as to how to stack and secure items for transport as well as any restrictions.

Measure the Payload

Use a measuring tape to determine the length, width and height of the payload from their widest points, including any overhanging material. The height of a package is the distance from the floor to its tallest point. Record the dimensions as you measure them. The length is typically the longest side and the width is the shortest side. If the payload is on a pallet, include the dimensions of the pallet in your calculations as well.

Calculate Cubic Feet

Multiply the three values together. This will give you the volume of the payload. If you measured the payload in feet, this figure is also the cubic feet of the payload. For packages measured in inches, divide the product of the calculation by 1,728. A box that is 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches has 1,728 cubic inches. Dividing your calculation by 1,725 converts your measurement from cubic inches into cubic feet. This conversion process is similar to method used to divide a number of inches by 12 in order to convert the value to feet.

Total Cubic Feet of the Shipment

If the payload consists of one package, provide the shipping company with the cubic feet obtained in the above calculation. For shipments containing more than one package, you will need to measure and calculate the cubic feet for each package. Add the cubic feet of each package to obtain the total cubic feet of the payload. The shipping company will provide a cost estimate based on the total cubic feet of the payload.

Jay White

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