Tiger logistics

Freight Methods — An Overview and Comparison

A quick read on the key freight methods and how to choose the right one for you

Freight methods: Multiple options; great confusion

If you are considering shipping goods of any quantity, you’ll realise that there are a variety of options at your disposal. These include Full Container Load (FCL), Less Than Container Load (LCL), breakbulk and Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) shipping. To make matters more difficult, there are multiple factors to take into consideration — shipment size, shipment type, price, and delivery speed. If you find yourself at such a crossroads, fret not! This blog will give you an overview of different types of cargo and assist you in making the correct choice for your business’ shipping needs.

Let’s understand the terms

FCL – Full Container Load

FCL shipping involves one shipper and one consignee. There is no room in the container for other shippers. Shippers choose to ship FCL:

  • To simplify the process
  • To reduce risk to/from the cargo of other shippers
  • When their cargo occupies the full container, making shipping economical
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LCL – Less than a Container Load

LCL refers to consolidated shipments of loose cargo that are boxed, palletized or crated. In LCL, cargoes of different shippers are grouped in a single container, enabling transportation of smaller volumes of cargo without paying for the entire container. Shippers prefer this mode when they don’t have cargo adequate to fill the entire container. Despite sharing a container, LCL allows shippers visibility and control over their cargo.

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Breakbulk

This shipping refers to cargo that will not fit into a container owing to its large size or weight, and hence must be loaded onto a vessel individually instead of in a container. Instead, such cargo is transported in bags, boxes, crates, drums, barrels, or is rolled, lifted, or pushed onto a ship.

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ODC

ODC cargo protrudes outside the loading deck of the vehicle used to transport it. It refers to any cargo that extends beyond the normal deck of the cargo (20′ or 40′ or more). The ODC cargo gets transported in flat racks and open tops.

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Which shipment type is right for you?

Choosing between LCL and FCL

In this scenario, you must consider 4 aspects to decide which of the two works best for you:

  • Volume: Opt for FCL if your shipment is larger than 10 CBM. Opt for LCL for low shipments of low volume.
  • Cost: For FCL, you will end up paying a flat fee for a full container. So, it becomes cost-effective. In comparison, LCL costs can rise in direct proportion to the space occupied.
  • Security: If your cargo stands the chance of being damaged or mishandled easily then FCL is the right option for you.
  • Urgency: If the delivery dates of your cargo are not flexible and/or you have tight delivery timelines then you must opt for FCL.

Businesses could consider LCL owing if you prefer flexible pricing arrangements and/or want to ship spillover goods. For them, it is the most cost-effective and logistically sound mode of shipping freight globally. They simply need to pay for the space in the container that their goods occupy.

Choosing breakbulk

If you want to ship equipment or goods that are tedious to break down or oversized then opt for breakbulk cargo. Such cargo typically comprises steel girders, structural steel, heavy machinery, large equipment, and so on.

Choosing ODC

The height and length of this cargo are larger than a standard vehicle. Such cargo is shipped in specially designed state-of-the-art containers that allow heavy goods to be moved from one place to another over long distances. So, you will choose to do ODC if you are shifting oversized cargo by land for commercial purposes.

Final thoughts

When shipping cargo and unable to choose from FCL, LCL, breakbulk or ODC shipment, consider your shipping budget, the shipment size, the fragility of the shipment, the value of your cargo and the delivery date. After doing a careful study based on the information presented above, you will be in a comfortable position to choose the right shipping mode. And, in case you are wondering why the fuss? The answer is that determining the correct method of transport for your goods is critical to ensure safe and prompt transport as well as your business’ success.

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