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Understanding CBM in International Logistics and Shipping

International logistics and shipping rely heavily on precise measurements to streamline the movement of goods. Cubic Meter (CBM) is a pivotal metric in this domain, offering a comprehensive view of cargo volume. Let's explore what CBM entails, how it's computed, its significance, and the typical container sizes associated with it.

Understanding CBM in International Logistics and Shipping

What is CBM?

CBM, or Cubic Meter, denotes the volume of a shipment in cubic meters. It accounts for the length, width, and height of the cargo, making it especially valuable for irregularly shaped freight. CBM provides a holistic measurement of the space cargo occupies.

Calculating CBM

The calculation for CBM follows a straightforward formula:


Consider this example:

  • Length: 2 meters

  • Width: 1.5 meters

  • Height: 1 meter

CBM=2×1.5×1/1000 ​= 0.003cubicmeters

Significance of CBM

CBM is instrumental in determining shipping costs. Shipping companies often bill based on volume rather than just weight. In the world of shipping, where space is a finite resource, efficient packing becomes crucial to avoid wasted capacity.

How CBM Works

Understanding CBM aids shippers in optimizing cargo space. Freight charges are typically based on either weight or volume, with shippers billed for the higher of the two. This emphasizes the importance of strategic packing to minimize costs.

Typical Container Sizes in CBM

Standard shipping containers come in various sizes, with the most common being 20 feet (TEU) and 40 feet (FEU) containers. A 20-foot container can hold approximately 33.2 CBM, while a 40-foot container accommodates around 67.7 CBM. These standardized dimensions help shippers plan and maximize the use of container space efficiently.

Practical Use of CBM

Consider a shipment weighing 500 kilograms with a CBM of 0.005 cubic meters. If the shipping company charges $10 per kilogram but $15 per cubic meter, the shipper would be billed based on CBM because 500 \, kg \times $10/kg = $500 is less than 0.005 \, m^3 \times $15/m^3 = $75.


In the intricate landscape of international logistics and shipping, CBM emerges as a pivotal metric, influencing costs and cargo optimization. Shippers must grasp this concept, leveraging it to ensure the efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally conscious transportation of goods globally. Understanding the typical container sizes further enhances their ability to navigate this complex terrain.

What is CWELogistics?

CWELogistics is a China-based Freight Forwarder/Shipping Agent that can help you consolidate and ship goods internationally from China to more than 200 countries worldwide by air, sea, rail or truck. Buying from Alibaba/Chinese suppliers and looking for a Freight Forwarder to help you ship internationally from China?

Understanding CBM in International Logistics and Shipping
Understanding CBM in International Logistics and Shipping

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