How to Calculate Cubic Weight in Freight Transport: A Comprehensive Guide

In logistics and freight transport, a crucial factor in calculating freight costs is cubic weight. Bulky cargo occupies a significant space in vehicles such as planes, trucks, ships, and others, directly affecting the transport capacity. In this article, we will explain in detail how to calculate cubic weight, an essential metric for logistics planning and cargo management in international trade.

What is Cubic Weight?

According to the definition of the National Land Transport Agency, cubic weight is the relationship between the weight and volume of the cargo to be transported. This metric is widely used in the transport industry and its primary function is to indicate the space occupied by the cargo within the vehicle. The value of the cubic weight is obtained through a formula that takes into account the length, width, and height of the goods, as well as the cubing factor used by the carrier.

Understanding the Cubing Factor

The cubing factor is a constant number that represents the “ideal weight” in relation to 1 cubic meter (1 m³) for each type of transport vehicle. These values are pre-established and can vary depending on the mode of transportation used. Here are the most common values for some modes:

  • Road: 1 m³ = 300 kg
  • Air: 1 m³ = 166.7 kg
  • Maritime: 1 m³ = 1000 kg

It is worth noting that these values may vary depending on the specific characteristics of the product or according to the policy of each carrier.

How to Calculate Cubic Weight

The calculation of cubic weight is performed using the following formula:

Cubic Weight (CW) = Length (meters) x Width (meters) x Height (meters) x Cubing Factor (kg/m³)

Let’s illustrate the calculation using air transport:

Suppose the volume of the merchandise is: 0.8 m (length) x 0.8 m (width) x 0.8 m (height)

The cubing factor used is: 166.7 kg/m³

Therefore, the cubic weight for air transport will be: 0.8 m x 0.8 m x 0.8 m x 166.7 kg/m³ = 85.35 kg

Important Note: Units of Measurement

When calculating cubic weight, it is essential to pay attention to the units of measurement used. The dimensions of the cargo should be expressed in meters (m), while the cubing factor is presented in kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m³).

The Importance of Cubing in Freight Transport

Proper evaluation of cubic weight is of utmost importance to optimize the freight process. Through this calculation, it is possible to avoid transporting bulky but lightweight cargo, which would waste the vehicle’s capacity. Similarly, it avoids the transportation of small yet extremely heavy goods that would occupy disproportionate space in the vehicle.

To understand the relevance of cubic weight, we can make an analogy with a well-known question: what weighs more, 1 kg of lead or 1 kg of feathers? Both have the same weight, but feathers take up much more volume than lead. It is this difference in volume that cubing seeks to balance in freight transport.


Mastering the calculation of cubic weight is essential for companies involved in logistics, supply chain, and international trade. Understanding how this metric influences freight costs and transport efficiency is fundamental for making strategic decisions and ensuring the optimization of logistics resources.

Therefore, when planning cargo transport, make sure to correctly calculate cubic weight and consider the specificities of each mode to ensure more efficient and economically viable logistics operations.

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