Container Volume Measurements: Your Essential Guide
Tel: 0800 1422 522
 Back to list

The Essential Guide to Container Volume Measurements: Understanding Cubic Feet

  • General News
  • 10th May 2024
Essential guide to shipping container

The Essential Guide to Container Volume Measurements: Understanding Cubic Feet

When it comes to modern logistics operations, the size and weight of any items requiring storage or transportation is a key piece of information! Whether moving things across oceans, putting it on a plane or packing products in warehouses, Cubic feet (ft³) are employed for computing the volume and size of a container. Understanding the cubic measurements of your items, the difference between types of shipping containers and how to select the most suitable container for your requirements will help manage shipping and supply chain costs.

Basics of Cubic Feet Measurement

Cubic feet measurement is the volume that signifies the portion of space covered by an object in 3D space. It is determined by taking the product of the length, width, and height of an object. The formula for calculating cubic feet is:

Cubic Feet = L (ft) × W (ft) × H (ft)

For example:

If you have 6 feet in length, 4 feet in width, and 5 feet in height. The calculations of its volume are as follows:

Volume (cubic ft) = (6 ft) (4 ft) (5 ft) = 120 ft³

Therefore, the volume is 120 cubic feet.

Types of Shipping Containers and Their Capacities:

Shipping containers are available in different sizes and shapes, each is manufactured for a different purpose. Some common types of shipping containers are;

1. Standard Dry Containers

These are the most frequently used containers for moving ordinary cargo by water, land, or rail. Standard dry containers normally come in sizes ranging from 20 feet to 40 feet in length with standard heights and widths. Many dry solid materials can be stored in standard containers. They are usually 8.5 feet (2.59 meters) in height and 8 feet (2.43 meters) in width and manufactured to keep moisture out.

These containers are manufactured of steel or aluminum. Steel containers have a little larger internal cube than aluminum containers, with a marginally higher payload (net cargo weight transported).

2. High Cube Containers:

High cube containers have the same length and width as standard containers but are taller by approximately a foot providing extra vertical space – perfect for moving large or heavy loads. They have capacities or volumes ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent more than standard dry containers of the same length.

3. Reefer Containers:

These are refrigerated cartons used for transporting vulnerable things like fruits and vegetables as well as pharmaceuticals that require temperature control. The containers maintain a consistent temperature and humidity with proper ventilation and are available in different sizes and capacities.

4. Open-Top Containers:

The roofs of the open-top containers are detachable and it is simple to load and unload heavy loads like machinery or equipment if items are very tall. The containers have a soft, detachable tarpaulin roof or a strong, steel roof which usually remain closed during transit. They are available in different sizes and capacities with some models featuring removable or swing doors for added convenience.

5. Flexi Tank Containers:

These containers are specially made for unhazardous liquids like frying oil or water. The flexi tank is a crumple and profound sealed bag that is packed with things and clamped within the shipping container to prevent their movement. Although a flexi tank can be made to accommodate up to 100000 liters of liquid goods its standard volume is between 10000 and 24000 liters.

6. Insulated Containers:

The temperature in this container type makes them perfect for the long way delivery of chemicals, frozen foods, fresh fruit, and pharmaceuticals. Shipping temperatures and contamination protection should be used when shipping these items. Insulated containers resemble thermos flasks, with  a mechanical compressor to maintain the temperature of the air inside them.

Importance of Correct Volume Measurement:

Cost Optimisation: Knowing the exact volume of a container helps optimise shipping and storage costs by maximising space utilisation. This minimises the number of containers needed for transportation or storage reducing expenses associated with handling and logistics.

Compliance and Safety: Correct volume measurement ensures compliance with weight and size regulations imposed by transportation authorities. Overfilled or improperly filled cartons propose protection risks and may result in fines or penalties for nonconsent.

Supply Management: The precise measure of the volume is necessary for useful supply management in warehouses and distribution bases. It enables organisations to monitor and manage stock levels precisely preventing lineage or over lineage problems.

Step-by-Step Guide to Measuring Container Volume:

Measuring container volume accurately involves the following steps:

  • Determine the Type of Container: Locate the type and size of the container you want to measure. Standard dry or high cubes each have special measurements.
  • Gather Measurement Tools: Obtain a tape measure or ruler to measure the length, width, and height of the container. Make sure the measures are precise and right for the size of the carton.
  • Measure Length: Start by measuring the length of the container from one end to the other. Note this measure in feet.
  • Measure Width: Measure the width of the container from side to side. Record the measurement in feet.
  • Measure Height: Measure the height of the container from the bottom to the top. Note this measure in feet.
  • Calculate Volume: Use the formula for calculating cubic feet (length × width × height) to determine the volume of the container.
  • Use Online Calculator: You can also take help from an online cubic feet calculator to find volume of a container by placing the values of length, width, and height. It can also help you to verify the manual calculations of finding volume in order to avoid wrong results.

Example Section:

Let us consider examples to illustrate the process of measuring container volume:

Example 1: Standard Dry Container

Length = 20 feet

Width = 8 feet

Height = 8.5 feet


Volume (Cubic Feet) = 20 ft × 8 ft × 8,5 ft = 1360 ft³ Ans.

Example 2: High Cube Container

Length = 40 feet

Width = 8 feet

Height = 9.5 feet


Cubic Feet = (40 ft) (8 ft) (9.5) ft = 3040 ft³ Ans.


The measurement of the container volume in cubic feet is vital for secure, cost-effective transportation and storage operations.

International Import Export Expertise at IoSCM

Upskill your shipping team with IoSCM. Call 0800 1422 522 today to find out how we can help.

Do you want more information?    Download Our Course Brochure