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How to Calculate CBM for a Sea Shipment and Air Shipment

CBM (or cubic meter) is the standard size that international sea shippers use to calculate how much to charge for cargo that is less than a container load (LCL). A CBM is defined as 1 meter high, wide and deep. You calculate it by multiplying the three dimensions of a box, crate or pallet in metric units. For example, a box that is 0.6 m high by 0.4 m wide by 1 m deep is 0.24 CBM. A CBM is approximately 35 cubic feet.

As for air cargo, air carrier usually charge the rate for kilo. And in order to avoid the situation, where light cargo can be charged less, volume weight can be applied. The formula for calculation is like this: Width (CM) X Height (CM) X Depth (CM) / 6000 = volume weight. So if the cargo is light, and 1 CBM for example is less than 166 kilo, it will be charged the rate for 166 kilos by air carrier anyway.

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It’s interesting that 20 or 40 foot container became the standard only in 1964! Modern transportation cannot be imagined without containers for  obvious reasons:

1.Container protects the cargo from environmental influences and ensures preservation for any mode of transportation;

2.The same container can be moved from one mode of transport to another (from ship to rail or truck) without unloading and reloading the contents of the container;

3.Container must be sealed, so only final consignee can open it. Sealed contained guarantees the safety of the cargo and helps to avoid a lot of claims against the carrier.

Hence, container transportation is very convenient, fast, reliable and affordable.

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