➡️Actual weight – how heavy the cargo is, usually measured in kilograms (kgs)

➡️Volumetric weight – the space that the cargo takes up, usually measured in cubic metres (CBM)

Air Freight

Air freight uses weight and volume to calculate its shipping rates. If you’re shipping by air, a standard dividing factor of 6000 will also come into play.

For example:

You’re sending cargo that weighs 0.4kg.

The cubic volume (length x breadth x width) is 12000 cbcm (cubic centimetres)

The cubic volume is then divided by 6000 to get 12000 / 6000 = 2kg. 2kg is now the volume weight of the cargo.

As the volume weight is higher than the actual weight, the volume weight is used to calculate the cost (usually on a per kg basis).

So, where the freight charge is ¥68 per kg, the cost of sending this cargo is 2 x ¥68 = ¥136.

Sea Freight

If you’re sending an LCL (Less than Container Load) shipment by sea, the shipper will calculate the weight of the cargo (the ‘weight’) and the cubic volume of the cargo (the ‘measure’). These will be compared on the basis that 1CBM = 1000kgs and the greater of the two will be multiplied by the shipper’s rate per kg.

CBM means Cubic Meter

CBM – cubic meter is calculated by multiplying length, width and height of packages of goods. For example, if the length, height and width of a cargo is 2.3 meters, 1.4meters and 2 meters respectively, the volume of cargo is 2.3 X 1.4 X 2.00 = 6.44 CBM. If you have the measurement in inches or centimeters, first you need to convert in meters and then calculate CBM which will be easier for you. If freight forwarder quote a rate of USD 220 per CBM, the rate will be 6.44 CBM X USD 220 per CBM = USD 1 416.80

Another example:

You’re sending cargo that weighs 200kg.

The cubic volume (length x breadth x width) of the cargo is 1.44cbm.

To make the two measurements comparable, the weight needs to be converted to become a decimal of 1000kg.

This conversion makes the weight of the shipment 0.200kgs.

44 is greater than 0.200; therefore the cubic volume is the figure used to calculate the freight charge.

Where the freight charge is $220 x the w/m (weight or measure) the costing for this cargo would be 1.44 x 50 = $316.80

How your cargo is charged is useful to know as it can affect the way that your supplier packs it for shipping.

For example, if your cargo is being charged by weight and not volumetric weight, you could choose to pack your cargo in a way that takes up more space to better protect it during transit. As long as the weight of the cargo stays the same (and remains higher than the volumetric weight), then the cost of shipping should not change.