CBM Meaning in Shipping: Calculate, Mean, Examples & More

You often hear the word CBM utilized in businesses shipping oversized loads from one country to another by land, sea, or air.

CBM means cubic meter—a widely utilized unit of measurement in shipping, which identifies the total freight cost you must pay for shipping goods. This article has everything you must know about CBM and how to calculate CBM.

What Does CBM Mean in Shipping?

What Does CBM Mean in Shipping

CBM (cubic meters) is one of the widely utilized units of measurement for dimensional or volumetric weight. This measurement is computed by multiplying the shipment’s length x width x height.

It also identifies how much unusable space your cargo will take on a ship, truck, or aircraft. In turn, that will decide how much freight cost you need to pay for transport.

A Cubic meter is a unit where you can measure the entire cargo volume. In short, you can determine CBM as the metric volume unit that clarifies how much space your package will take.

How to Calculate CBM in Shipping?

How to Calculate CBM in Shipping

Calculating CBM is easy only when you know how to calculate CBM and how to convert that into kilograms. You should also compare that dimensional weight against the gross or actual weight.

Whichever of those figures is higher will then be matched against the freight rate determined by the carrier for one CBM or one kilogram/ton.

How can I calculate CBM for ocean freight LCL Shipments?

How can I calculate CBM for ocean freight LCL Shipments

Let’s say you send LCL shipments by sea freight. Shipping companies collect freight costs under CBM, mainly for LCL ocean freight, as they weigh less than one ton (1000 kg). The freight will be charged by weight if the cargo weighs over a ton.

Example of ocean freight LCL shipment calculation using CBM

Example of ocean freight LCL shipment calculation using CBM

To calculate ocean freight, consider the following example:

Ocean freight package dimensions: 3m x 3m x 1m

CBM: 3×3 x 1= 9m³

DIM factor: 1:1000

Gross weight: 7 tons (7000 kilograms)

Ocean freight rate: $40 per cubic meter/ton

The total shipment volume is higher than the actual weight, and the ocean freight will be charged based on CBM. Therefore, the freight cost: $40 x 9 = $360.

How to calculate CBM for air shipment or air freight?

How to calculate CBM for air shipment or air freight

In air freight, the CBM calculation stays the same. However, the freight is charged on actual or volumetric weight—whichever is higher. The DIM factor commonly utilized in air freight is 1:6000. For instance, one cubic meter is equivalent to at least 6000 kilograms.

Example of air shipment or air freight calculation using CBM

Example of air shipment or air freight calculation using CBM

To calculate CBM for air freight into KG, here’s a good example:

Freight rate: $6.5 per Kilogram

Package dimensions: 150cm x 100cm x 100cm

Gross weight: 150 kilograms

Dimensional weight: 150 x 100 x 100 ÷ 6000 = 250 kilograms

Note that the chargeable weight is the dimensional weight (250 kilograms). That is higher than the gross weight (150 kilograms). Thus, the freight cost is 250 x 6.5 = $1625.

How Do You Calculate CBM For Irregularly Shaped Packages?

How Do You Calculate CBM For Irregularly Shaped Packages (2)

The most typical way to calculate the CBM of irregular packages is by measuring the longest height, longest length, and longest width and multiplying all of those together.

Particularly for cargo with cylindrical packages, it’s the convention to compare the freight cost calculated using CBM with the freight rate calculated using the cargo’s volumetric weight. Whichever is higher of the two would be passed on to the customer.

Example of irregularly shaped packages calculation using CBM

The formula for an irregularly shaped package is:

CBM = Length (max) x Width (max) x Height (max)

For a cuboid: 10 cm (L), 8 cm (W) and 5 cm (H).

Every distance must be divided by 100 to convert the unit of measurement into a meter.

·       L – 10 cm/100 = 0.1m

·       W – 8 cm/100 = 0.08m

·       H – 5cm/100 = 0.05m

CBM = 0.1m x 0.08m x 0.05m

CBM = 0.004m³

What is the Difference Between Volumetric Weight, Actual Weight, and Chargeable Weight?

Before you calculate CBM and freight charges for various domestic and international freight, it’s important to learn a few definitions.

What is the Difference Between Volumetric Weight, Actual Weight, and Chargeable Weight

Dimensional weight or volumetric weight

Dimensional weight refers to the weight calculated based on the freight volume. When you have light shipments but massive—something that may cover more space in the container—the freight cost would be charged by the dimensional weight rather than the actual weight.

For example, you might be shipping bulky but light shipments such as plastic balls that are extremely big in size and cover more space. The freight cost will be calculated based on the goods’ dimensional weight.

Actual weight

Actual weight is the cargo’s real weight plus package, self, or pallet and container, which shows on a weighing scale. Carriers weigh and measure cargo during the inquiry stage after it has been packaged through a certified freight scale.

On top of computing the freight charges, identifying the actual weight can help you guarantee the air cargo is placed within the package. That also guarantees the good’s safety.

Chargeable weight

The chargeable weight is the bigger value between the actual and dimensional weights. The carrier will charge by dimensional weight if the dimensional weight is greater than the gross weight. The cargo is then called light cargo.

Alternatively, the actual weight is greater than the dimensional weight, charged by actual weight, and the cargo will be called heavy cargo.

As a rule, it’s typical to utilize chargeable weight in courier, air, rail, and international freight.

How do you calculate CBM chargeable weight?

The dimensional weight will be computed in kilograms once you divide the CBM by its suitable DIM factor. For instance:

Air shipment CBM: 2.4m³

= 2.4 /0.006 = 400 kg= 2.4 x 167 = 400.8 kg

Types of Containers and their CBMs & Dimensions

What is the Difference Between Volumetric Weight, Actual Weight, and Chargeable Weight

You need to calculate the CBM of the container and consignment. Standard containers are available in three sizes: 45 feet, 40 feet, and 20 feet.

How many CBMs are in a container?

The dimensions for the variations are as follows:

FAQs about CBM in shipping

 Do you have more questions in mind about CBM? We hope this segment will answer some of them

How many kg makes 1 CBM?

 For ocean freight pricing, one ton or 1,000 kilograms is the equivalent of 1 CBM. That makes it relatively simple to calculate CBM for less container load shipments:

For a quick reference, here’s a convenient chart converting kilograms to CBM for ocean freight:

1 kg = 0.001 CBM

10 kg = 0.01 CBM

50 kg = 0.05 CBM

100 kg = 0.1 CBM

200 kg = 0.2 CBM

500 kg = 0.5 CBM

1000 kg = 1 CBM

Is CBM the same as M3?

 Remember that a cubic meter is simply another way of saying a block of space that measures 1m x 1m x 1m, length x width x height.

That calculation offers a more accurate indication of volume that covers how much space you’ll need on most LTL trucking carriers. That unit of measurement is how LTL trucking carriers measure space in their trucks.

How do you convert CBM to M3?

 Length x width x height = CBM

That is the CBM formula utilized to measure the total volume of your cargo (m3). Let’s say you have a carton that is two meters long, two meters wide, and two meters high.

Then, it’s total volume is 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 m³.

How much can a 20 feet container hold?

 All the dimensions of a 20-foot container are:

·       Usable capacity: 32.6m3

·       In meters: 5.898m in length x 2.352m in width x 2.393m in height

·       In feet: 19’ 4” (L) x 7’ 9” (W) x 7’ 10” (H)

It has 146 square feet of floor space and 1,172 cubic feet of volume. Depending on the pallet type, it can hold ten standard pallets or the same size or 12 Euro pallets without stacking.

How many CBMs fit in a 40ft Container?

 The dimensions of a 40-foot container are normally measured using the imperial system and define interior and exterior dimensions.

The dimensions of a 40-foot container are:

·       Usable capacity: 67.7m3

·       Exterior Dimensions (in feet): 40’ (L) x 8’ (W) e x 8’ 6” (H)

·       Interior Dimensions (in feet): 39’ 6” (L) x 7’ 9” (W) x 7’ 10” (H)

A 40-foot container can hold about 25 Euro pallet stacks as long as the load isn’t hanging over the sides.

This container can hold twenty-one pallets for the standard American pallet size as long the load isn’t hanging over the sides.

What is the dimension of 1 CBM?

One common misconception about CBM is that it’s the same as one square meter. However, the former measures three-dimensional space, while the latter measures it in two dimensions.

One square meter refers to the square patch of ground, one meter in both dimensions (width and length). In other words, that measurement explains the area of space.

For a 1 CBM, all three dimensions are considered. In essence, it measures the volume of space.


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