CBM Calculator

Estimate total shipment size and costs accurately from single unit dimensions.

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CBM Calculator User Guide

This is a free CBM calculator that you can use to determine the overall volume of a shipment by entering the dimensions of an individual unit or carton.

It then takes things a little further and helps you understand:

  • Weight: The total weight of your entire shipment.
  • Volumetric Weight: Key if your shipment is large in volume but relatively light in weight.
  • Container Capacity: How many units you could fit in different container sizes to maximize efficiency.
  • Shipping Cost: The price you could expect to pay per unit and for the total shipment.

These extra features are designed to help ecommerce sellers maximize the efficiency of their product selection and shipping operations.

NOTE

This tool is designed to provide estimates and not be the basis of financial decisions. Freight rates can be very volatile and change daily. Before committing finances to a specific product or shipment, obtain an up-to-date quote from a freight forwarder.

Entering shipment information

Calculating the total volume of your shipment in cubic meters and cubic feet is as simple as entering a few data points.

First, choose the basis by which you want to calculate total volume:

  • Unit: Before your factory has manufactured and packaged your products you can use this option and enter single-product dimensions and weight to get an initial idea of shipment volume and costs.
  • Carton: Once you have confirmed carton dimensions and weight you can use this setting to get the most accurate results.

Next, choose your measurement system:

  • Metric: Enter measurements in centimeters and weights in kilograms.
  • Imperial: Enter measurements in inches and weights in lbs.

Each option will calculate the results in both metric (cubic meters, shipment volume in kilograms) and imperial (cubic feet, shipment volume in pounds).

Finally, enter package specifications:

  • Length: The longest side of the product or carton.
  • Width: The next longest side of the product or carton.
  • Height: The final side of the product or carton.
  • Weight: The weight of a single product or carton.
  • Quantity: The number of packages in the shipment – either individual units or cartons.
  • Units Per Carton: When calculating by carton, include the units per carton (eg. 50) to produce a shipping estimate per unit.
  • Add Carton Buffer: When calculating by unit, toggle this option on to add a buffer to account for the size and weight of master cartons that your products will be packaged in. This accounts for approximately 12 standard double-wall cartons for every cubic meter of space.

Entering shipping rates

To get an accurate estimate of potential freight costs, use the sliding scale to select up-to-date rates.

Most freight forwarders quote prices by by cubic meter (CBM), so you can either do a quick search to see what current prices are like or use $300 per CBM as a guide.

NOTE

The per cubic meter pricing will apply to your freight costs only and you may need to pay other costs such as import duties and taxes.

Understanding your results

Once you’ve punched in your numbers the results panel will come alive with a range of different outcomes:

a visual description of the results you will receive from the CBM calculator

1. Volume

First, you’ll get an output showing total freight volume in both cubic meters and cubic feet.

2. Weight

Next, you’ll find the total weight of your shipment.

This is its actual weight and will be information your freight forwarder will need to give you an accurate quote.

3. Volumetric Weight

Next, you’ll find something called volumetric weight — sometimes called dimensional weight.

This is a metric introduced to help the shipping industry price lightweight but high-volume shipments.

For example, air shipping is usually priced by actual weight on a per-kilogram basis.

However, if you try and ship a container-sized load of feathers, that will take up a lot of volume on a plane but have a light overall weight.

To remedy this, the concept of volumetric weight was introduced and is a metric that needs to be carefully considered if you are both:

  • Shipping light products
  • Shipping by air

Whichever is the larger of the actual weight and volumetric weight will be what is known as your chargeable weight and what your freight cost is calculated on.

However, if you are shipping by ocean, volumetric weight shouldn’t be a concern as most ocean freight quotes will be by volume (per CBM) rather than weight.

4. Container Capacity

This next metric is designed to help you optimize for maximum efficiency in your supply chain.

It shows how many units of a product you’d be able to fit in:

  • 20ft: A standard 20ft dry container
  • 40ft: A standard 40ft dry container

This can help when placing high volume orders in order to get the most value out of a full container load.

5. Shipping Cost

Finally, the CBM Calculator will give an estimated shipping cost broken down by:

  • Unit: An estimated cost per individual unit. Very helpful for use when calculating a product’s potential profit margins.
  • Total Shipment: An estimated cost of your total shipment.

The shipping cost calculator is based on a price per cubic meter that is generally associated with shipping less than a container load (LCL).

NOTE

If your total shipment volume is above 15 cubic meters it will usually be more cost effective to book a full container load (FCL) using a 20ft container.

Frequently Asked Questions

To calculate CBM, you first need to measure the length, width, and height of your package and multiply them together.

If you are measuring in centimeters you should divide each measurement by 100, like this:

(l/100) * (w/100) * (h/100)

For example, to calculate CBM for a package that is 100cm x 50cm x 50cm the formula would look like this:

(100/100) * (50/100) * (50/100) = 0.25 cubic meters

Or:

1 * 0.5 * 0.5 = 0.25 cubic meters

To calculate volumetric weight, measure length, width, and height in centimeters, multiply them together then divide by the volumetric factor.

Different shipping companies may apply slightly different volumetric factors, but for air freight (which is where volumetric weight is mostly a factor) a commonly used factor is 6,000.

For example:

(L*W*H)/6000

Or:

(100*50*50)/6000 = 41.67kg

Shipping containers come in various capacities. The two most common for standard shipments are:

2 images of shipping containers, one 20ft and one 40ft, and the related capacities - 33cbm and 67cbm
  • 20ft containers which have a max capacity of approximately 33 cubic meters
  • 40ft containers which have a max capacity of approximately 67 cubic meters

This cubic meter calculator uses these capacities to calculate how many individual units of a product could fit inside each container based on the input measurements given.

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