The stowage factor of a cargo is the ratio of weight to stowage space required under normal conditions. It indicates how many cubic meters one metric ton of a particular type of cargo occupies in a hold, taking account of unavoidable stowage losses in the means of transport or the CTU (Cargo Transport Unit).
Stowage factors (SF) is a numeral which expresses the volume (space) in cubic feet (or in cubic meters) occupied by 1 tonne of cargo when stowed in a vessel’s cargo compartment.
It is an empirical (approximate) figure reached by experience and takes into account dunnaging. SF may be different from the actual cubic measurement of 1 tonne of the commodity because of the method of packing or nature and origin of the commodity.
SFs are expressed in cubic meters or cubic feet per 1 metric ton. However, because SFs in cubic feet are easier to remember, the “market” prefers to work in cubic feet than in cubic metres when describing SFs. It is important to bear in mind that 1 cubic metre = 35.3148 cubic feet. You can, therefore, convert one into another.
SFs are useful at the planning stage before a cargo is loaded to know how best to maximise available space with greatest safety.