In short a dimensioner is a proprietary system of cameras and software that scans and measures freight. Similar technology is used at sawmills to measure and count various pieces of wood. Now this technology helps automate a previously manual process. As freight enters an LTL carrier’s terminal overhead cameras are able to get measurements of length, width, and height. Meanwhile a forklift which often has a scale built in , will weigh the skid.
These system tout extremely high accuracy (98%+ in many cases). Across the board adoption of dimensioners has quadrupled over the last 3 to 4 years with even more wide usage coming. The LTL carriers main reason for quicker adoption? Simple, they want more accurate data. As the LTL carriers and the NMFC as a whole move toward density based pricing this will help both customers and carriers maximize the new density based programs.
Over the last decade the LTL carriers have made huge strides in accurately costing out their freight. While prior to 2006 carriers might have inspected or weighed 50% of shipments or less today many carriers strive to inspect 90% or more. The carriers view ugly freight with any or all of the following characteristics: Unprotected, low density, high class, extremely long, high propensity for claims.
LTL carriers first made a push to recover hidden revenues by hiring more inspectors at every terminal.
As shipment volumes picked up it became more important to accurately price out space on the truck. Aside from service, at the end of the day the trucking companies make money selling space on a trailer. So inspectors payed a critical role in that regard.
Now this technology is taking some of that load away from inspectors. Keep in mind there are still manual inspections being performed and many of the smaller LTL carriers have not invested in this technology. Expect the most shipments to be examined at high volume terminals through a dimensioner.