LCL Freight Forwarders: How Does My Shipment Get Measured?

An LCL freight forwarder is a common term for an international shipping company that consolidates cargo shipments to move large amounts of goods overseas.

A single, entire container ship can hold thousands of packages with cargo from hundreds of individual companies. As the name implies, an LCL freight forwarder is responsible for consolidating shipments into larger containers before sending them across the world to their target destination.

As part of the process, your shipment gets divided into cubic meters, and each unit is weighed.

The cumulative weight of your cargo plus other goods in the container creates a total measurement for how much space you use.

How do they calculate CBM and freight ton?

CBM (Cubic Meter) is the most commonly used measurement to determine volumetric cargo. They measure it by multiplying your shipment’s dimensions: length x width x height = CBM.

Metric Tons indicates the weight of the shipment. Freight Ton is when the volume or weight of the shipment is calculated to determine your shipping charges. The greater of the two is typically used.

The international shipping company uses these measurements to generate invoices and billing statements based on what you were charged when everything arrives in its destination country.

This process ensures all shipments in the container get charged relatively, and no one company takes up excessive space or adds extra weight to the cargo at the expense of others.

Why do LCL freight forwarders use weight to measure cargo?

Weight is always available online

Many freight forwarders use the internet to check prices on different shipping routes. When they can’t find an exact price for your shipment, they try to estimate the total weight based on previous cargo delivered through similar routes. It provides them with a rough estimate of how much you should expect to pay before transporting your goods.

Cargo needs to be shipped in specific units

Some ports require specific measurements for cargo transport. Local laws and regulations define these constraints, so international shipping companies need to send out shipments within these specifications or risk law enforcement intervention. The more common unit sizes are 100-200 kg, 500kg, one metric ton (1,000 kg), and 50 cubic feet (cubic meters).

Cargo is divided before it’s loaded

Your shipment doesn’t come out of the factory in one large container filled with every item you purchased. Instead, your cargo load is divided by type and boxed or bagged together before being added to an LCL freight forwarder’s container ship.

It makes loading easier for everyone involved and ensures each part of your order gets delivered safely without overlap, contamination, or damage.

Since your goods are separated beforehand, they’re measured based on their weight rather than just lumping them all into one measurement that can lead to miscalculation errors. Cargo companies use this system of subdividing cargo into smaller units so they don’t accidentally overload a ship or underestimate the amount sent to its final destination.

The cargo company keeps track of everything

The international shipping company deals with thousands of shipments every day, so keeping detailed records becomes essential for preventing errors or mitigating damage if something goes wrong during transport. Cargo is often loaded early in the morning before the LCL freight forwarder opens for business, so people could have an accident while loading later that afternoon.

If this occurs, your shipment would be covered under insurance, and you’ll likely get compensated for any damages. The cargo company keeps very detailed information about where your shipment originated from and what was included to file claims accurately at a later date.

The items need to remain visible throughout shipment

Several other types of cargo transportation use weight as a measurement because it’s an easy way to identify each item and where they should place it within the container. People don’t typically ship things by flinging them into a large box, so the only way to keep track of individual items is to measure their cumulative weight separately from everyone else’s goods.

For example, if you have five boxes weighing 100 kg apiece, they’ll require more space than five boxes weighing 10 kg each even though both groups combined equal 500 kg worth of cargo. Suppose your shipment gets loaded haphazardly into a container that’s already half full. In that case, this could lead to damage or loss during transport that results in insurance claims being denied due to improper packing practices.

The weight doesn’t always correspond to the contents

International shipping companies need to estimate the total weight based on previous cargo sent through similar routes to get a rough idea of how much you should expect to pay before transporting your goods. However, there are many reasons why freight items can be measured by weight even when they aren’t filled with heavy materials.

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