How Does the Cubic Capacity Rule impact LTL Shipping?

If you’ve been looking over your old LTL shipping invoices, then you might have noticed some unusual figures and numbers. These logistics companies tend to use a lot of different jargon and terminology. As a result, it can be confusing for the clients (that’s us) to know what they’re talking about. Are they just pulling the wool over our eyes to sneak in extra charges?

One number you might have been confused by, for example, is the minimum cubic capacity rule. This is a surcharge classification that will appear from time to time. However, it’s a legitimate thing. To clarify, it is actually a fair charge to impose when you understand what it is and how it works.

What is the Cubic Capacity Rule and How does it impact LTL Shipping?

Although there are many advantages to using LTL services (Less Than Truckload), there are also some regulations that these companies need to follow. It’s important that they comply with these rules and also declare this on billing in the interests of transparency.

This can be a somewhat complex rule for clients to grasp however, which is why we’re going to take a look at precisely what the rule means – and at how you can use an understanding of the rule in order to avoid escalating charges!

What You Need to Know

The LTL carriers need to impose a minimum cubic capacity rule in order to ensure that they can operate efficiency. Essentially, this rule is intended to ensure that the amount you are paying as a client is fair given the amount of space that you are taking up in the vehicle.

If you consider that many LTL companies charge based on the weight of the goods, then it becomes apparent that some products will be more expensive for those companies to deliver. For instance, if you were to send a large number of marshmallows, then these wouldn’t weigh much at all! However, they would still be able to take up a large amount of physical space. You might end up getting most of a truck to yourself, despite only paying for a very small amount of weight!

Therefore, the normal method of charging would not be suitable for this. Therefore, the LTL carrier may stipulate – for example – that if a shipment fills more than 750 cubic feet and maintains a density of less than six-pounds per cubic foot, then it isn’t paying enough. That’s when you get hit by the cubic capacity rule.

This is a common example, but it’s not a universal rule: the specifics can vary a lot from one company to another.

What to Do About It

With that in mind then, what can you do?

Seeing as different carriers will define different rules relating to the cubic capacity rule, it is therefore up to you to ensure that you find the company with the rules that best suit your needs. Which companies offer the lowest fees? Which companies have the most lenient thresholds that you can work with? Shop around and find out who can transport your marshmallows for the least expense!

Another tip is to consider your packaging and how this might affect matters. If your weight is very much walking a fine line, then using slightly heavier packaging or containers could help you to avoid a charge. Making your items heavier to spend less might seem counterintuitive, but occasionally it works! Packing your items in more tightly together can also help by reducing the space they take up and increasing the density.

Note as well that the way you measure can make a fairly big difference!

Another thing to consider, is that there are other ways a company might add extra costs. For example, you need to be careful about exceeding the limitation on the bill of lading estimate. It’s important to make sure that the size listed on the BOL is accurate, otherwise you can get fined with a cubic capacity violation charge (even if you wouldn’t normally be in any violation).

There’s also the extreme length fee, which will be charged to you if your shipment is longer than 12 linear feet. This charge is often even greater than the cubic capacity fee. Worse is that you can end up paying both an extreme length fee and a cubic capacity charge in some cases. Make sure that your items are not violating both these rules.

Finally, consider working with a 3PL. This can help to save you a lot of time and frustration, as here the company will be working with your best interests at heart to offer the most cost-effective solutions at every stage of logistics. They can even help you to negotiate fees where you are close to the line.

And remember: negotiation is always an option. Especially if you are a loyal customer!

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