How to Calculate a Shipment's Density

Shipment density, the total weight of the shipment divided by the total cubic feet, is one of the factors that determines the freight rate. To take advantage of the best available rate, shippers should put in the density or cubic feet of the shipment on the bill of lading.

Followings are the steps to calculate the density.

Step 1. Measure the height, width, and depth of the shipment in inches. Measure to the farthest points, including skids or other packaging.

  • On Shipments with multiple pieces, repeat step 1 for each piece.

Step 2. Multiply the three measurements (height x width x depth). The result is the total cubic inches of the shipment.

  • If you have multiple pieces, multiply the height x width x depth for each piece. Take the results for each piece and add them together to get the total cubic inches

Step 3. Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic foot). The result is the cubic feet of the shipment.

Step 4. Divide the weight (in pounds) of the shipment by the cubic feet. T he result is the pounds per cubic foot, i.e., density.

  • For multiple pieces, be sure to add the weight of each piece together before dividing by the total cubic feet of the shipment.
  • Round fractions to the nearest full cubic foot number.

If you need more information on how cubic feet and density relate to freight rates, contact your Vitran's sales rep.


  1. Multiply Length 48" x Width 40" x Height 28" (22" plus 6" of pallet) = 53,760 cubic inches
  2. Divide 53,760 by 1,728 = 31.1cubic feet
  3. Divide 110 pounds (80 lbs for the carton and approximately 30 lbs for the pallet) by 31.1 cubic feet = 3.54 pounds per cubic feet (PCF), i.e., density


In cases where the shipment is palletized, the dimensions of the pallet determine the cubic dimensions. Although the original dimension of the carton remains the same, the cubic dimensions now include those of the pallet.

Example: Length 48", Width 40", Height 28" (22" plus 6" of pallet) equals 53,760 cubic inches (Length X Width X Height) or 31.1 cubic feet (Length X Width X Height/1728). The density equals the weight 110 (80 lbs for the carton and approximately 30 lbs for the pallet) divided by the cubic dimension, 3.54 lbs per cubic feet.
All values entered must be in a number format(whole or fraction) with no more than 5 decimal places
Unit Length Width Height Total Wt(lbs.) Cubic ft. Density lb/cubic ft.
Total Cubic ft.