For any business, small or large, logistics is a concern that can make or break one’s profitability. If you are in the business of making products, then you would most likely have to worry about sending these to your distributors locally and around the world. For those in the business of exporting goods, this means finding a good shipping company to bring your products to foreign shores.
Finding a shipping agency might be a different experience, depending on whether your business is small or if it has already scaled into a large enterprise. When you need to ship products across the globe, you have several options.
Logistics service companies. If you only need to ship several boxes of products at a time, you might want to get in touch with a logistics services company first. There are a lot of such services that you can use, and many of these are also popular as courier companies. There is FedEx, DHL and UPS. These companies let you send small parcels and even boxes to locations around the world. They are considered logistics service companies because they cater to businesses that need to send products and items around the world without necessarily having their own shipping containers.
Logistics service companies employ different means of transporting parcels around the world. The above-cited companies actually have their own fleet of airplanes for express delivery, and sea-going container vans for regular bulk delivery. Costs would differ depending on the weight of a parcel that you wish to send. If you are sending in bulk, then you can probably save up on the per-unit cost. Upon arrival at the destination country, the logistics service company would also be the one to take care of distributing these to the addressee.
Shipping agency. If your shipping requirements are bigger, you can get in touch with a local shipping agency, which can give you better rates for bigger items. These agencies usually loan out container vans, which you can fill with goods and raw materials. Container vans are even big enough to load with fully-assembled vehicles and household appliances and furniture. Container sizes are measured by “twenty foot equivalent units” or TEUs, which indicate the length of the container van. The most common size is two TEUs, which means the container van is 40 feet in length, and usually eight feet in height and width.
Signing up for a shipping agency’s services would require you to disclose the nature of your shipment, particularly whether these are for commercial purposes, or if you simply intend to move personal goods from shore to shore, as is the case if you are moving from country to country. These would then be indicated in the bill of lading, which is the document used by the operator of the shipping line when processing your container van through customs officials both in your country and the destination.
Shipping a container van would usually take six to twelve weeks, and there is an additional time for clearing at the destination port, as customs authorities would usually have to inspect the contents for any illegal or disallowed shipments. After clearing, containers then have to be forwarded to the final destination, so you would also have to get in touch with a forwarding company, which owns the trucks that will haul the container van to its destination.
Popular shipping lines today include big companies like NYK, Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk, Hanjin and COSCO.
The need to find a shipping agency would depend on how large your intended cargo would be. For smaller items, you might be able to save on money and time by shipping through a logistics service company. However, for bulk cargo, freight shipping is the most viable means to send raw materials and finished products from shore to shore.