How To Calculate CBM And Freight Ton

Updated on August 18, 2023

Calculate CBM And Freight Ton

Understanding the terms CBM (Cubic Meter) and Freight Ton is essential in international shipping and logistics. These measurements are essential for calculating shipping costs, making the most of available cargo space, and ensuring precise transportation planning. Understanding these calculations can help you make better decisions and save money whether you are a business owner, supply chain manager, or an individual looking to ship goods internationally. 


You will acquire the knowledge you need to navigate the intricate world of international shipping as this guide delves into the complexities of calculating CBM and Freight tons.


Understanding CBM (Cubic Meter)


The shipping and transportation industries use the CBM, or cubic meter, as a volume measurement unit. It serves to show how much room a shipment takes up. Multiplying the three dimensions of length, width, and height yields a relatively simple calculation of CBM. Here's the formula:

CBM = Length (m) × Width (m) × Height (m)

Take a crate with the following measurements as an illustration:

Length: 2 meters
Width: 1.5 meters
Height: 1 meter
To calculate the CBM of this crate:
CBM = 2m × 1.5m × 1m = 3 cubic meters


It is important to remember that measurements must be made in meters for CBM calculations to be accurate. Be sure to convert any dimensions you have to meters before using the formula if they are in other units, such as centimeters or feet.


Unpacking Freight Ton:


A freight ton is a unit used to calculate cargo weight in the shipping industry. It is crucial for figuring out shipping prices and load limits. However, various tonnage measurements include Gross Weight Ton (a Short Ton) and Metric Weight Ton. Let's explore these concepts in more detail:


Gross Weight Ton (Short Ton): This unit of weight equals 2,000 pounds and is widely used in the United States. The Gross Weight Ton is calculated by multiplying the cargo's weight in pounds by 2,000. 

Gross Weight Ton = Weight (lbs) ÷ 2,000

Metric Weight Ton: This unit of measurement, which is equivalent to 2,204.62 pounds, is used in most other parts of the world. By multiplying the cargo's weight in kilograms by 1,000, you can determine the metric weight ton.

Metric Weight Ton = Weight (kg) ÷ 1,000

For example, if you have a shipment weighing 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg):

Gross Weight Ton = 5,000 lbs ÷ 2,000 = 2.5 tons (short tons)
Metric Weight Ton = 2,268 kg ÷ 1,000 = 2.268 metric tons


Relationship between CBM and Freight Ton:


Freight Ton measures weight, while CBM measures volume, and there is a crucial relationship between the two measurements in shipping. Carriers consider both cargo volume and weight to ensure effective use of space and proper weight distribution, so this relationship is relevant when determining shipping rates. Which measurement to use as the foundation for calculating the shipping cost depends on whether it is Chargeable Weight or Volumetric Weight.


The formula for calculating Chargeable Weight is:


Chargeable Weight = Max { Gross Weight (tons), Volumetric Weight (tons) }

Here is a formula for determining volumetric weight (in metric tons):
Volumetric Weight = CBM × Volumetric Conversion Factor

Different factors affect the volumetric conversion factor depending on the unit system being used and the mode of transportation (air, sea, or road). The factor is typically around 167 for air freight measured in metric units. It could be around 1,000 for sea freight.

Using a Volumetric Conversion Factor of 167 and a shipment with a Gross Weight of 2.3 metric tons and a CBM of 4.5 cubic meters, for instance:

Volumetric Weight = 4.5 CBM × 167 = 751.5 kg (0.7515 metric tons)

The maximum of the gross weight and volumetric weight in this situation would be the chargeable weight:
Chargeable Weight = Max { 2.3 tons, 0.7515 tons } = 2.3 tons


Making Informed Decisions:


Making educated conclusions in the world of shipping and logistics requires understanding CBM and Freight Ton calculations. By mastering these calculations, companies and individuals can calculate shipping costs with accuracy, maximize the space available for cargo, and ensure that cargo distribution is done securely. Furthermore, this information gives stakeholders the power to bargain with carriers for advantageous terms and to make strategic decisions that reduce costs and streamline the shipping process.




In conclusion, the shipping industry relies heavily on CBM and freight tonnage measurements. The relationship between CBM and Freight Ton is essential in determining a chargeable weight for calculations of shipping costs, even though both units measure volume and weight, respectively. You will better navigate the complicated world of international shipping and logistics, resulting in more effective supply chain management and informed decision-making if you understand the ideas behind these measurements and the calculations involved.

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