Speed Up Shipping with Full Container Load (FCL)

Speed Up Shipping with Full Container Load, Shipping products overseas can be a costly endeavor, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. However, there are ways to speed up shipping times without having to pay an arm and a leg. One of the most effective methods is to use FCL shipping – Full Container Load.

What is FCL Shipping?

FCL stands for Full Container Load and refers to sending goods in a full ocean freight container directly to their destination. This differs from LCL (Less than Container Load) shipping where your cargo is grouped with other companies’ goods in the same container.

With FCL shipping, you rent out the entire container just for your products. This allows you to avoid having your items reloaded at different ports along the way. Ultimately, it provides faster transit times since your products aren’t sitting around waiting to be consolidated or deconsolidated with other cargo.

Benefits of FCL Shipping

There are several key benefits to using FCL over other shipping methods:

Faster Transit Times

As mentioned, FCL allows for faster delivery to your end destination as your products aren’t being repeatedly handled and reloaded along the way. There’s no need to wait for your items to be grouped with other cargo. This can shave days or even weeks off ocean freight delivery timeframes.

Lower Risk of Damage and Loss

With full container shipping, there is less handling of your goods involved which reduces the risk of product damage or loss during transit. Your cargo is loaded at the origin and unloaded at the final destination. Minimal extra loading/unloading greatly improves the chances of your goods arriving safely and intact.

More Control and Flexibility

Booking a full container load gives you maximum control and flexibility. You choose pickup and delivery times as well as define any special shipping requirements, such as temperature or humidity control. FCL allows you to customize the transit process to your exact specifications.

Potentially Lower Shipping Costs

While FCL has higher upfront costs, once you tally up all the fees it may actually provide significant savings over LCL. No consolidation/deconsolidation fees and faster transit means lower overall supply chain costs. For many high-volume shippers, FCL is cheaper in the long run.

When to Use FCL Shipping

The main factors to consider are shipment volume and urgency. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Use FCL when you have very time-sensitive cargo that needs the fastest transit time possible.
  • Use FCL if you regularly ship high volumes that can consistently fill a full 20ft or 40ft container.
  • Use FCL for expensive, hazardous, or fragile products that require maximum safety and security during transport.
  • Use FCL for refrigerated or temperature-controlled cargo that needs careful handling.

Businesses that deal in large quantities of raw materials, distributors with consistently high order volumes, and manufacturers coordinating global supply chains are all ideal candidates for FCL shipping.

Read: How to Ship and Pack Glassware and Fine China

Tips To Speed Up Shipping with Full Container Load

Follow these tips for getting started with FCL:

Understand Your Volume Needs

Carefully evaluate your order history and forecasted shipment volumes. This will help you select the right container size to maximize each load without wasted space. Ongoing assessment ensures you choose FCL only when volume warrants it.

Research Reliable Carriers

Find an experienced logistics provider with extensive FCL expertise. The right freight forwarder is essential for routing efficiency, managing customs, tracking, and issue resolution. Take time to thoroughly vet potential partners.

Plan Ahead and Book an Early

Give plenty of advance notice when booking FCL. Carriers need time to source empty containers and coordinate inland trucking. Book 4-6 weeks beforehand for the best routing and rates. However, leave a buffer for unforeseen order changes.

Understand Documentation Needs

FCL shipping requires more documentation like packing lists, commercial invoices, shipper’s letter of instruction, and bills of lading. Familiarize yourself with exactly what’s needed to avoid customs delays.

Get Accurate Weight Measurements

An accurate cargo weight is crucial for FCL. Double-check weights and dimensions to avoid any imbalance fines down the line. Know the verified gross mass (VGM) of your container load.

Learn: Freight Forwarder vs. Third-Party Logistics

Leverage FCL for Faster, More Economical Shipping

FCL container shipping enables getting your products to market quickly without busting budgets. For businesses that regularly ship in bulk or have special handling needs, FCL offers an affordable option for fast, direct, and damage-free transport. Follow the tips above to start utilizing FCL to improve supply chain efficiency and boost your bottom line.

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