Freight forwarding consists of strategic logistics planning and execution for the international movement of goods, on behalf of shippers. Specifically, a freight forwarder will carry out freight rate negotiations, container tracking, customs documentation and freight consolidation, among other tasks.
Importing and exporting creates lucrative opportunities for businesses with the wherewithal to execute strategic logistics plans. But the logistics of international shipping is complicated, to say the least.
The following is a brief breakdown of a day in the life of a forwarder:
Forwarders use a Transportation Management System (TMS) to maintain transparent visibility throughout each stage of a shipment’s voyage.
Some forwarders may have their own warehouses available to harbor shippers’ commodities (or parts of commodities), but for the most part, the service your forwarder will offer is to arrange storage at a warehouse owned and operated by a conveniently located affiliate.
Bargaining with carriers for cost-efficient shipping rates is no easy task. The art of this deal entails appealing to carriers’ interests by balancing the pros and cons of your cargo type, time flexibility, credit status, space/tonnage requirements, and more.
Savvy coordination and scheduling of cargo space are the more tangible parts of a forwarder’s skill set. If you hire a freight forwarder to manage logistics, this is where they’ll have the opportunity to display their chops. It takes a thoughtful planner to determine whether it is profitable to consolidate a shipment, to secure timely sailings, and to weigh the feasibility of intermodal shipping options. Cargo scheduling is the logistics of "Logistics."
Forwarders may have several customers who all need to transport shipments that do not necessitate the use of an entire container. Freight consolidation for less than container load (LCL) shipping is a service forwarders provide wherein multiple smaller consignments are all booked aboard the same container. In these instances, the shipping cost is spread amongst all participating customers based on the cargo’s space requirements.
Forwarders can provide you with a cargo insurance policy, also known as freight insurance. Cargo insurance is intended to reimburse the loss payee in the event that goods are damaged or stolen in transit.
Note: Cargo insurance does NOT cover any tangential loss related to the inciting incident. For example, if a container falls off a truck thus damaging a structure nearby, cargo insurance will cover the financial loss of the damage done to the contents of the container, but not the financial burden of the structural damage nearby.
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