In transportation logistics, every detail counts to optimize costs and maximize efficiency. Two key concepts that play a fundamental role in planning and executing an effective logistics strategy are the CBM (Cubic Meter) and the chargeable weight.

These indicators not only directly affect transportation costs, but also influence the choice of the most suitable and economical shipping mode.

At Across Logistics, we understand that properly managing these factors can mean the difference between an average logistics service and an exceptional one. So, in this article, we will explore in depth what CBM and chargeable weight are, how they are calculated and why it is crucial for any company looking to optimize its supply chain to have a thorough understanding of them.


What is CBM

The CBM, or cubic meter, is a unit of measurement that represents the volume occupied by a load.

In the field of logistics and transportation, knowing the CBM is essential to determine how much space a load will occupy in a container or transport vehicle. This data is crucial not only for planning the physical space required, but also for estimating transportation and storage costs.

CBM helps us to visualize the amount of product that can be transported efficiently, facilitating the organization of full loads and the optimization of available resources.


How to calculate the CBM of a load

Calculating the CBM of a load is relatively straightforward, but requires precision in measurement. To determine the volume in cubic meters of any shipment, simply measure the height, width and depth of the cargo in meters and then multiply these three figures.

The formula is:


CBM=Height (m)×Width (m)×Depth (m)

For example, if you have a box with dimensions of 2 meters high, 1.5 meters wide and 1 meter deep, the CBM will be:


CBM=2×1.5×1=3 cubic meters

It is critical to perform these measurements carefully to ensure that the CBM calculation is accurate, as any errors can result in incorrect estimates of the space required for transport and thus increased logistics costs.


Why it is important to know CBM in transportation and logistics

Understanding and correctly calculating the CBM of a cargo is vital in logistics for several key reasons, all focused on optimization and cost reduction:


Space planning

In transportation, whether by sea, air or land, space is a resource that pays. Knowing the CBM of cargo allows companies to efficiently plan how to group their products and optimize the use of containers or cargo compartments.

This is crucial to minimize shipping costs, especially on long-haul routes where costs can escalate quickly.


Shipping cost

Shipping rates are often based on the weight or volume of the cargo, depending on which is greater.

CBM helps determine the “volumetric weight, which can directly affect the cost of transportation.

Understanding how CBM impacts these costs allows companies to make informed decisions on packaging and shipping method to reduce expenses.


Efficient inventory management

In the warehousing logistics, knowing the CBM of stored products facilitates the management of storage space and helps to plan warehouse capacity more efficiently.

This can lead to faster inventory turnover and better use of available space, which is essential to keep operating costs down.


Regulatory compliance

In some cases, customs and security regulations require detailed information on cargo size and volume. Providing accurate CBM measurements ensures compliance with these regulations and avoids delays or penalties during the shipping process.


At Across Logistics, we understand the importance of these factors and work closely with our customers to ensure that every aspect of the CBM calculation is handled with the utmost accuracy. This not only helps to improve the planning and execution of logistics operations, but also optimizes the costs associated with the transport and storage of goods.


What is taxable weight and how does CBM affect it?

Assessable weight is a methodology used by transportation companies to calculate shipping costs based not only on the physical weight of a load, but also on the space it occupies.

This practice ensures that a fair charge is made for the space each package occupies on a transport vehicle, especially in modes where the weight does not necessarily reflect the space used, such as air or ocean shipments.

The CBM is directly proportional to the assessable weight; the greater the volume of a package, the greater its assessable weight. This means that even if an object is light, but takes up a lot of space, it may be billed at a higher rate due to its large size.

This is a crucial consideration in logistics because it affects space planning and cost strategy, especially on international routes where costs can be significantly higher.


How to calculate the taxable weight

The calculation of the chargeable weight is essential to determine shipping costs and varies according to the type of transport used. Here we explain how to perform this calculation in general for the different modes of transport:


Ground Transportation

In land transport, the chargeable weight can be calculated in two ways, depending on whether the cargo is removable or not:

For remountable cargo (cargo that allows more packages to be placed on top without damage): The volumetric weight is obtained by multiplying the total volume of the cargo (in cubic meters) by a standard conversion factor, which varies depending on the region and the carrier’s policies. A commonly used factor in the international market is approximately 333 kg/m³.

For non-remountable loads (goods that do not support more load on top due to their structure or packaging): A calculation based on the linear meters occupied on the vehicle is used. The volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the linear meters used by a conversion factor, which can be up to 1800 kg per linear meter in some cases.


Air Transportation

The air transport uses a similar method to land for remountable cargo, but with a specific conversion factor for air due to the weight restriction on aircraft.

Generally, the volume is multiplied by a factor that is usually smaller than in ground transportation, reflecting the need to optimize space without overloading the aircraft.

A typical value used is 167 kg/m³, adjusting according to the regulations of each airline or destination.


Maritime Transportation

In the maritime transport the calculation of the taxable weight is simpler due to the carrying capacity of the ships:

Usually the actual weight in tons is compared with the volume in cubic meters converted to tons (1 m³ is approximately equivalent to 1 ton). The greater of these two values will be the taxable weight.


These methods ensure that transportation costs are calculated fairly and efficiently, based on both the physical weight and space occupied by the cargo. At Across Logistics, we provide expert advice to help you determine the most cost-effective and appropriate method for your shipping needs, ensuring that your goods are handled optimally at all times.


Impact of CBM and volumetric weight on the selection of means of transport.

The choice of the most appropriate means of transport is a critical decision in logistics, which can affect both efficiency and costs.

CBM and chargeable weight are determining factors in this selection, as different modes of transport handle the cost based on these measures differently.


Air transport: Ideal for urgent or high-value cargo, but it is also the most expensive. Here, volumetric weight plays a crucial role, as charges are usually based on weight or volume, depending on which is greater. Optimizing packaging to reduce CBM can lead to significant savings in air shipping costs.

Ocean freight: Often the most economical option for large volumes, perfect for cargoes with a high MBC. Cost is usually less sensitive to volumetric weight, making it ideal for bulky and heavy goods that do not require fast delivery.

Ground transportation: Generally used for shorter distances or as part of a multimodal solution. Weight and volume also affect costs, but flexibility in frequency and door-to-door delivery capability offer significant advantages for loads with specific size and weight requirements.


How many CBMs are in a 20-foot container?

A 20-foot container, commonly known as a TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit), is one of the standard sizes in the shipping industry and is frequently used for a variety of cargoes.

This type of container has an internal volume of approximately 33 cubic meters. Its use is ideal for medium loads that require a balance between cost and capacity.

At Across Logistics, we recommend this type of container for customers looking for a cost-efficient solution for moderate quantities of goods, ensuring that space is utilized to the maximum without paying for unused capacity.


How many CBM is a 40-foot container?

The 40-foot container, or FEU (Forty-foot Equivalent Unit), is another standard size in the shipping industry, offering twice the capacity of the 20-foot container.

This container has an internal volume of approximately 67 cubic meters. It is perfect for high volume shipments, providing a cost-effective way to move a significant amount of goods in a single unit.

At Across Logistics, we advise our customers on the use of 40-foot containers when their shipping needs warrant greater scale, helping them take advantage of economies of scale while minimizing transportation and warehousing costs.


Need help with your shipping logistics? At Across Logistics we can help you.

In the competitive world of logistics and transportation, having a strategic partner with a deep understanding of your company’s needs can make all the difference.

At Across Logistics we not only provide transportation services by land, sea and air, but we also offer customized solutions in
customs management
, warehousing and distribution as well as e-commerce logistics.

Our mission is to simplify and optimize every aspect of your supply chain, ensuring that your products reach their destination efficiently and at a reasonable cost.

If you are looking to improve your shipping logistics, reduce costs and increase efficiency, Across Logistics is your ideal partner.

Contact us at today to find out how we can help you achieve your logistics goals and take your business to the next level.