Transportation – linear feet , linear meters

What are linear feet? What are linear meters?

A linear foot or a linear meter are, as they sound like, a foot or a meter in a line – a length of 1 foot or 1 meter. 5 linear meters describe a line 5 meters long.

In the field of transport, these linear meters or feet are used as a measurement of how much space is used in a truck. This linear footage or meters measurement is used notably for the pricing of LTL partload or LTL volume services.

By default, a 1 meter or 1 foot long item represents 1 loading meter or 1 loading foot, but loading meters or feet calculations can be influenced by the cargo placement inside a truck:

  • Side by side: Putting items side by side takes up less loading meters than putting them end to end.
  • Turnable Freight: By turning items you may increase or decrease the loading meters of the load.
    Item packaging has to be designed so that a forklift can grab them and load them turned.
  • Stackable Freight:  Stacking items will also decrease loading meters.

Loading meters or feet can then (depending on your contract or your service provider terms and conditions):

  • Be used directly to calculate your transportation rate (rate per loading meter).
  • Or can be converted to a dimensional weight which may then be used to calculate your rate.
    This is done by multiplying the linear length by a known conversion factor – such as every loading meter is considered equivalent to 1765 kilos. This conversion factor is loosely based on the typical weight capacity and typical length of a semi-trailer.
A truck diagram representing a trailer and its linear meter conversion ratio. Comparable logic for linear feet and lbs conversion.
Typical trailer length and capacity in Europe and conversion rate from meters to kilos used by many LTL part-load providers

You can find more information on linear footage in the 7 minute video below:
(most of the contained information remains valid [with different applicable conversion rates] for linear meters)

We speak and use this LTL partload and volume LTL related linear footage, linear feet and linear meters in both our ground training modules, so if you want to take this further, you can subscribe to one of our road transport focused eLearning courses:
Americas ground transport essentials (focused on Truckload and Less-Than-Truckload)
Europe inland transport essentials (focused on Truckload, Less-Than-Truckload, Oversized and light Rail & Barge)
Use the coupon LTL10 to knock $10 off the price of these courses.