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Category Archives: Freight Solutions

What is logistics in business

As we have explored as part of our recent series of blogs looking into the world of logistics, this is the industry that manages the acquisition, transport, storage and distribution of resources, typically on behalf of a third party client. While logistics is clearly still a vital component that helps to keep the public sector moving, it is private business contracts that make up the backbone of the contemporary logistics industry. 

A well-designed and effectively executed logistics strategy is essential for every business. Whether that’s a manufacturing company that needs to get its goods from one place to another in order to trade, or a retailer that requires an efficient warehousing and distribution process to help store and ship their products, logistics is key. But how does this work in practice? What processes need to be in place? And why are good logistics so important in determining a business’ success? 

In this blog, Freightline Carriers will answer all of these questions to ensure you are up to speed on this broad topic.  

What does logistics mean in business?

From highly-specialised international air freight services and professional freight forwarding to day-to-day warehousing and distribution solutions, when we talk about logistics in the business sector, we are specifically referring to how these services and solutions are used by private companies (particularly in the manufacturing and retailing sectors) to keep the supply chain moving. In a nutshell, this is the entire process involved in managing stock and transporting a business’ goods and products from point A to point B – including everything required in between. From distribution plans and inventory management to custom clearances and any storage requirements at both ends – this makes up what is meant by business logistics. 

With this in mind, businesses have two options when it comes to their logistics needs – they can either manage all their requirements in-house or they can hire a third-party business logistics partner (3PL), such as Freightline Carriers, to manage all, or just certain aspects, of their logistical processes on their behalf. 

What is a logistics business process?

Logistical processes refer to tasks, jobs, and procedures your business is required to carry out in order for the supply chain to operate effectively. For example:

  • Sourcing materials

Manufacturing businesses need to have logistical processes in place that help them to efficiently procure and distribute the raw materials and other components they need to make their products. Not only relating to the transportation of the materials needed, the logistical processes involved in procuring these items requires physically locating, negotiating deals for, storing, and eventually using them.

  • Transportation

The first process most people think of when considering business logistics processes, the physical movement of materials, goods and products from one location to another (both inbound and outbound) requires a lot of planning. From sourcing and implementing the best shipping methods for the job to ensuring deadlines are met and goods are kept safe, this is an area in which 3PLs can be particularly helpful. 

  • Warehousing

An often overlooked aspect of business logistics, processes that manage and control the storage of a business’ goods need to be well thought out. Not only a case of locating the physical building used to store your goods, warehousing processes should cover everything from the installation and maintenance of the infrastructure to and from your warehouse(s) to the day-to-day use of inventory management systems. This can help you to forecast demand, control stock levels and improve order fulfillment efficiency. 

  • Order fulfillment

This is a broader term that can encompass a number of the previous processes mentioned. Order fulfillment is essentially the tracked management of customer orders, from the point a purchase is made to the time it is physically delivered. This process typically involves the use of sophisticated logistical software tools including order management programmes and shipment tracking applications.

Why is logistics important for business success?

The efficiency of a business’ logistical processes have a direct impact on the wider supply chain the organisation operates within, meaning if your processes are not as optimised as they could be, your business may perform less successfully overall. 

To put it as simply as possible, if your business has poor logistics strategies in place, it is likely that this will have a knock-on effect on your supply chain, in turn impacting how effectively you can operate. If, for example, you don’t have an efficient shipping and distribution process in place, customers may be left waiting longer than needed for their orders, or if your warehousing processes are inefficient, your ability to properly manage stock and inventory can suffer. These small inefficiencies can soon snowball and start to affect how your business functions, potentially increasing costs, damaging your business’ reputation and impacting your relationships with supply chain partners. For this reason, ensuring you have a well thought out business logistics strategy in place is absolutely essential.

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What is custom clearance?

Customs clearance is a mandatory process that all goods must go through when entering and leaving a country. In the UK’s case, custom clearance allows HM Customs & Excise to ensure the submission of export and import documents has been completed correctly and that the payment of any duties, VAT and other costs incurred by customs agents, such as storage and testing, has been made. Additionally, with the UK now no longer a member of the European Union, it operates inside its own customs territory independent of the EU’s collective free-trade zone. This means that added customs checks and additional inspections are now required for all imports and exports to and from the UK. 

Below, we explain how customs clearance works in importing and exporting, before looking into how shipping companies can help clients efficiently navigate the process.

Custom clearance procedure for export 

Customs clearance for exports is essentially the process of gaining permission from a country’s government to transport goods out of a sovereign territory. When looking at what the custom clearance procedure for exports looks like, a number of factors need to be taken into account. For example, the specific regulations in place in your country of export, the type of goods you are attempting to ship, trade agreements in place between the countries of export and import, and the sophistication of technology used by an exporting country’s customs agency. However, as a rule, the custom clearance procedure for export typically follows these steps:

  1. Registering your business/organisation with the customs authority’s system and obtaining an export business number. This will only need to be performed once, rather than for every shipment.
  2. Applying for and obtaining a certificate of origin for the items you want to export. This essential item can be provided by a ‘competent authority’ of the exporting country.
  3. Ensuring the goods you are attempting to ship are not prohibited or banned in either the country of export or the country of import. This can be checked on the official websites of both parties.
  4. Determining which export commodity codes you need in order to legally and efficiently export your goods. These unique six, eight or 10 digit numbers are assigned to every different type of product type and help customs agencies quickly identify products and decide the customs duties applicable. 
  5. Applying for and obtaining an export licence and/or permit for your goods, if needed. This will typically only need to be performed once per specialist item, rather than every time you ship specialist goods. 
  6. Completing an export declaration form for each shipment. This can be done either manually or digitally, and must be carried out before all shipments you export.

What is import customs clearance?

Import customs clearance is the process of gaining permission from a country’s government to bring materials and/or produce into their sovereign territory. For the most part, the import customs process is very similar to export customs clearance, however with the addition of a number of steps. These extra stages generally relate to tax and duty assessments and final payment options involved in international shipping, and include:

  • Completing and filing an import declaration form. This can be done either digitally or manually. At this stage, it is likely you will also need to provide a packing list for the goods in your consignment, any copies of relevant import licences, and certificates of origin. As we discuss below, this can be done by your freight forwarder or broker, if you chose to use one. 
  • Waiting until customs officials based in the country of import approve your declaration.
  • Paying the duties and taxes you owe based on the customs import assessment. Again, if you are partnered with a freight forwarding company or broker, they will typically do this for you and invoice you at a later date. 
  • Waiting for your goods to be released, signalling the end of the customs clearance process. 

Does the shipping company arrange customs clearance?

If you choose to partner with a specialist customs broker or a freight forwarding shipping company to help you manage your logistical needs, this partner will typically make all arrangements, in theory at least, taking the stress out of overseas shipping. From ensuring relevant VAT declarations and customs clearance documentation are correctly completed and filed to monitoring and ensuring the entire export/import customs clearance happens as efficiently as possible and your goods remain safe, a shipping company can take care of everything.

However, in order for a shipping partner or broker to act as an intermediary between you and the various stages involved in long-distance shipping, they will require you to provide the customs agents working for the partner with a number of vital documents. As discussed above, this includes commercial invoices, packing lists, commodity codes and licences, and certificate of origins. For this reason, despite the expert service many shipping companies provide when it comes to customs clearance, it can still be a good idea to employ someone familiar with these administration processes.

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What are Incoterms?

Incoterms are an essential part of international shipping and customs clearance processes

From setting out who pays what to clarifying which party is responsible for the shipment at each individual stage of the journey, the international transport of goods requires a lot of complex planning and arrangements – Incoterms simplify this process.

These universally used set of 11 recognised and accepted rules, which are represented using common acronyms, are used to define the responsibilities of both the sellers and buyers of a particular overseas shipment. However, if you are new to the world of international trade, these relatively simple sets of rules can appear confusing. With this in mind, here at Freightline, we have put together this handy guide to ensure you know exactly what to expect when dealing with Incoterms.

What does Incoterms mean? 

The word ‘Incoterms’ refers to International Commercial Terms – a series of internationally accepted trade rules published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). 

As mentioned above, the purpose of these rules is to clearly set out the responsibilities of both buyers and sellers for the delivery of goods which are under contract and set to be shipped. This is to say they allocate the specific obligations, costs and risk-share between the two parties at each and every stage of a shipment’s journey. This information includes specific instructions relating to who is responsible for factors such as paying for and managing the shipment, documentation, insurance, loading/unloading, storage, customs clearance, and other logistical activities.

An Incoterm is typically presented as an easily identifiable three-letter acronym which can be quickly and efficiently recognised and understood by all parties involved in each stage of the shipping process. From specialist freight forwarders, such as Freightline, to customs agents and port staff, the Incoterm impacts all aspects of a shipment’s journey. 

What are the different types of Incoterms? 

There are 11 different types of Incoterms, which can be plotted on a scale ranging from those commercial terms that state the vendor is 100 per cent responsible for the entire transport of a shipment to ones which set out that the buyer carries all responsibilities for the goods during every stage of transit. 

Below are brief descriptions of all 11 Incoterms:

  1. EXW (Ex Works)

This means the vendor must give the buying party complete access to goods at an agreed location. From the moment access has been granted and a location agreed upon, the buyer bears all costs and risks during the entire shipping process.

  1. FCA (Free Carrier)

An increasingly common delivery condition, here the seller must make the goods available at their own risk and expense at an agreed place. This means the seller is responsible for all export customs activity and other export activities. However, from delivery at a named port/terminal onwards, the buyer is responsible for all shipping obligations. 

  1. CPT (Carriage Paid To)

Here, the seller has the same responsibilities as under FCA, however with the additional responsibility of having to pay delivery costs. This means the seller must organise customs clearance, ensure export fees are paid and arrange for a carrier to deliver the goods to an agreed location. After this point, the buyer takes responsibility for the shipment. 

  1. CIP (Carriage Insurance Paid To)

This is the same as CPT, however here the seller is obligated to arrange and pay for cargo insurance. Like CPT, when CIP is used, the responsibility for the shipment shifts from seller to buyer when the seller transfers the cargo to the carrier.

  1. DAP (Delivered At Place)

With DAP, the vendor carries all the responsibility in terms of shipping costs and risk during the transport to an agreed address. However, this responsibility shifts to the buyer as soon as the goods have arrived and are ready to be unloaded. 

  1. DPU (Delivered at Place Unloaded)

This means the seller is responsible for all costs and risks associated with delivering goods to an agreed location, as well as the process unloading for further transport.

  1. DDP (Delivered Duty Paid)

The vendor carries the cost and risk of transport and arranges all export and import tasks, including payment of VAT and duties. As soon as the shipment has been delivered at the location and is ready for unloading, the buyer takes on the responsibility.

  1. FAS (Free Alongside Ship)

The vendor bears all the costs until the goods are delivered to the port and are ready to be loaded onto the ship. After this, the buyer is responsible for the goods, including import/export customs clearance.

  1. FOB (Free On Board)

Here, the seller is responsible for the goods, including export clearance, until they are safely loaded onto the ship. Once the goods have been loaded, the buyer takes on all responsibility. 

  1. CFR (Cost And Freight)

This is the same as FOB, however, here the seller must also cover the costs of transport to the port. 

  1. CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight)

CIF dictates that the vendor has the same responsibilities as with CFR, however, there is the additional obligation of paying for basic cargo insurance. That being said, the buyer is responsible for paying for more comprehensive insurance policies.

Which Incoterm should I use?

Naturally, the Incoterm you choose will very much depend on a number of different factors. These factors include the nature of your goods, the method of transportation (road, sea, air or rail), who is insuring the goods, how well you know the buyer and more. For this reason, it is important that you fully understand the commercial arrangements you have in place with your buyer before deciding on an Incoterm. 

FOB is the most popular Incoterm as it represents a relatively equal share of the risk for both buyers and sellers. However, if you are a more experienced importer, you may want to retain more control over the shipping process. In which case, EXW may suit your needs better. However, the most advantageous Incoterms for importers include DAT, DAP and DDP.

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A bevy of black swans: are black swan events increasing in frequency and can you predict the unpredictable?

As the world becomes increasingly complex, the challenges encountered by the logistics and supply chain industry continue to mount. From globalisation and global warming to the COVID-19 pandemic and political instability, any business involved with the transportation, distribution and the storage of goods on an international scale is faced with an ever-growing web of potential hurdles. 

And it seems it isn’t enough to plan for things that are likely to happen, many business leaders feel like it’s more important than ever to try to anticipate and plan for the unlikely. In this blog post, we focus on the concept of black swan events, unpack their impact and discuss whether you can safeguard your business against the fallout of these incidents.

What is a black swan event?

A black swan event refers to an unexpected or unpredictable event that has catastrophic and far-reaching consequences. Such happenings are often said to have been predictable in hindsight, despite their high improbability.

The expression is derived from the historical and false belief that all swans are white. The oldest documented reference to a metaphorical black swan comes from second-century poet Juvenal who wrote: “a rare bird in the lands and very much like a black swan”.

Developed by the mathematical researcher and former Wall Street trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who wrote a book on the subject in 2007, black swan theory refers to unpredictable, high-profile events that have extreme consequences. Black swans can take any form, from state collapses, to financial crises, to terrorist attacks. In some cases, they have resulted in important scientific discovery, technological breakthrough and artistic achievement. 

The trouble with black swans

Many businesses these days are accustomed to analysing past data and using it to predict future events. However, standard forecasting methods cannot predict black swan incidents. Indeed, if firms put too much stock in these methods, it can lead them into a false sense of security and make them complacent when it comes to building robustness against high-impact, low-probability incidents.

Some notable black swans and their effects

Many incidents in recent years could be referred to as black swans. Here we take a look at just a few examples:

The Suez Canal blockage

In March 2021, a huge Japanese container ship, measuring 400 metres long and weighing in at 200,000 tonnes, ended up wedged in the Suez Canal. The extremely busy and important trading route, which sees approximately 12 per cent of international maritime trade passing through it each year, was obstructed for over six days. The blockage sparked a chain reaction of global supply chain disruptions. With ships being forced to re-route, congestion increased at busy ports and distribution centres. It also aggravated the already difficult shipping container shortage. Many types of businesses experienced shipment delays, including dining and drinking establishments, construction firms, health suppliers, wholesale trade and food retailers. This difficult-to-predict event held up an estimated $9.6bn of trade each day. This equated to approximately $6.7m per minute. 

The COVID-19 pandemic

Although some people argue that the coronavirus outbreak is not a true black swan due to the fact that experts had previously predicted that a pandemic was inevitable, the majority of businesses couldn’t have predicted the impact this kind of crisis would have on their supply chains, their businesses and the world at large. According to an Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) survey of 200 senior-level supply chain executives in late 2020, only two per cent of respondents said they were fully prepared for the pandemic. Meanwhile, research conducted by McKinsey in July 2020 suggested that 73 per cent of supply chain executives faced problems in their supplier base, and 75 per cent experienced production and distribution. The food and consumer-goods industries were particularly hard hit, with 100 per cent of executives in these sectors saying they had encountered production and distribution problems and 91 per cent revealing they had experienced issues with suppliers. A study commissioned in June 2021 by Interos indicated that pandemic-related disruption cost large companies, on average, $184 million (approximately £134 million) per annum. It also unveiled that 83 per of large businesses have suffered damage to their reputation due to supply chain disruptions.

The 2007-2008 financial crisis

A wide variety of factors led to the global financial crisis that began in 2007, including predatory lending practices, inadequate regulation of the financial services industry, excessive risk-taking on Wall Street and the subprime mortgage collapse in the US. These interconnected events have often been referred to as a ‘perfect storm’. The impact of the economic downturn on the global supply chain was profound, with companies that depended on banks to provide working capital to pay for production, inventory and materials left without liquidity. In the UK, after 63 quarters of expansion, the economy began to shrink. It continued to get smaller for five quarters in a row and took five years to recover to its pre-recession size. It’s thought that the crisis led to the closure of approximately 800,000 businesses in the UK alone. 

Protecting your business against black swans

Despite advances in risk management methods and forecasting technologies, it’s clear that we can’t always predict the future. In that case then, how can business leaders in the logistics industry ensure that their firms stand the best chance of weathering the next great storm? The answer lies in building resilience and robustness so that, no matter what the future holds, your chances of survival are healthy.

Here are some of the key areas that logistics businesses should be focusing on in order to become more resilient and robust:

  • Reskilling workers for a digital supply chain

According to Ernst & Young LLP, 61 per cent of supply chain executives plan to retrain and reskill their workers in the next year. Businesses should be looking at helping staff to adapt to digital technologies, increased automation and greater levels of virtual collaboration. The health and safety of staff when using equipment should also be a key priority. 

  • Creating greater supply chain visibility

Businesses need to improve their response to disruption by investing in real-time visibility and monitoring of their supply chain and its constituent parts. More and more, businesses are utilising Internet of Things (IoT) technology and sensors to gather information on the location and condition of goods in the supply chain. This can help a business to move from linear to more integrated and complex supply chains with greater ease.  

  • Achieving a competitive advantage through sustainability

There’s no doubt that the focus on sustainability is going nowhere. Environmental goals should be taking centre stage for logistics businesses around the globe. Not only will good sustainability performance help to attract investors, employees and customers, this area is also becoming increasingly important in terms of regulation. Furthermore, focusing on a circular, no-waste approach can create significant cost savings.

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How to load and unload a shipping container

Prior to loading containers with goods, there are a number of important factors that need to be taken into account when shipping freight. To ensure no money is wasted, goods are not damaged and employees stay safe, it’s imperative that everything is done by the book, from making sure everything inside the container is securely stored and packaged to ensuring the loading process is safe for those charged with loading and unloading. 

Whether you’re looking to improve loading times or find more efficient and safe ways to pack and secure your goods when shipping freight overseas, read on for professional advice on how you can make loading and unloading shipping containers a slicker, safer and more efficient process.

How to load a shipping container

Accidents involving shipping containers are surprisingly common. It is thought that each year approximately 1,000 containers are lost at sea, while thousands more are significantly damaged due to incorrect loading by the freight companies. This causes significant financial losses for both the logistic companies involved, as well as their partners. It can also be extremely dangerous for people working on cargo ships and those who unload each container when they reach their destination. For this reason, knowing how to safely and efficiently load a shipping container is vital. Luckily, this can be done in four simple steps:

1. Check the container’s condition

The first thing you need to do before you even start loading a container is to check it thoroughly. Over a lifetime, these containers can take a real battering, leading to damage – as an overseas shipper, it is your responsibility to ensure the container you’ve been provided with is in good condition and safe to use.

Your first job is to establish what the container’s official weight payload is to ensure it meets your requirements, and also check if it is displaying a valid Container Safety Convention (CSC) plate. This should be attached to the door of your container. If it does not have one of these, it will need to be returned to your supplier. If the CSC plate is in place, it’s time to check the exterior and interior of the container for signs of damage. Be sure to look out for the following:

  • Tears, holes or extreme rust to the outside panelling of the container.
  • Damage to the exterior door handles/locks.
  • Dirty or unclean container interiors which could make loading your goods unsafe or produce an unhygienic freight environment.
  • Damage to the floor of the container – look out for items such as dangerous protruding nails or screws, or loose packaging from previous shipments.

If you notice any of these issues, contact your supplier and request a new container. 

2. Create a stuffing plan

Next you need to think carefully about how you are going to load your container based on the weight and size of your goods – this is called a ‘stuffing plan’. Remember – randomly placing your goods in a container until it reaches capacity can lead to an unbalanced and potentially dangerous situation. Instead, think about how your cargo can be equally distributed across the floor of the container.

According to the Department for Transport, you should never load more than 60% of the payload in less than half the length of the container. This is because it could result in a dangerous axle overload. With this in mind, consider the size and weight of every item carefully and be sure to always securely store heavy cargo and liquids at the bottom, evenly distributed, and lighter goods stowed on top. This should make for a secure container with a safe, low centre of gravity. 

3. Secure cargo

Once your goods are correctly positioned in the container, it is time to ensure it is securely packed as tightly as possible. Working from the bottom up, try to fill any empty spaces between items with packing material, empty boxes or blankets. This will give items less space to move around in during transit, preventing unnecessary damage. 

It is also a good idea to use strapping devices, such as tie-downs, fasteners, friction lashings or other bracing solutions to secure items in place. Heavy seas and wind can put a huge amount of strain on shipping containers, meaning if the items inside are not correctly secured, they can move around, become damaged or even displace the container inself. This is dangerous and can cause costly damage.

4. Final checks

Finally, before you send your cargo on its way, taking the time to do one final check is always a good idea. Ensure all items are stored and secured correctly and that all goods are evenly distributed and space has been used effectively.  If everything looks good, securely close the container’s doors and lock them using a heavy duty padlock. 

Can a forklift load a shipping container?

Yes, forklift trucks can be used to load shipping containers. Thanks to an array of different attachments that can be used on forklifts, these handy vehicles are used at many ports to load everything from pallets and boxes to large drums and coils. 

How long does it take to load a shipping container?

The time it takes to load a shipping container depends on what you are loading (how heavy your cargo is and if it is made up of fragile or hazardous materials), how much help you have in terms of manpower, forklifts and cranes, and what size containers you are loading. 

However, as a rule of thumb, to pack a 20-foot container it usually takes around three hours, while a 40-foot container will take closer to six hours. 

What is a full container load?

A full container load (FCL) is a full shipment which contains cargo owned by one party. This is the opposite of a less than container load (LCL) which describes a container that features cargo from multiple shippers, packed together. 

How to unload a shipping container

Unloading a shipping container is typically easier than loading, especially if you are prepared. There are two main ways to do it – from the ground or from a raised container. 

A raised container simply means that the shipping container is still mounted on the chassis of a truck during the unloading process. This method is typically used to unload containers holding regular or palletised cargo. To unload a raised container, you may want to move the cargo inside it either by hand or using a pallet trolley. A forklift can then be used at ground level to lift the goods out of the container. Alternatively, a mobile yard ramp can be used. These smart pieces of equipment can be rolled into position, temporarily fixed to the back of the container and used to quickly unload cargo. Although these ramps are large and difficult to store, it means forklifts and pallet trolleys can easily be rolled in and out of the container, speeding up the unloading process.

If you are attempting to unload a container that is holding very large or extra heavy cargo, it is not always safe or even practical to unload while the container is still raised. For this reason, sometimes a shipping container will have to be lifted onto the ground while still full to make the unloading process safe. To do this, a crane, heavy-duty forklift, reach stacker or side loader will have to be used. Once the container is on the ground, a regular forklift or hand-operated pallet trolley can be used to safely unload your cargo. While the specialist equipment needed for this type of unloading can be expensive, whether you are purchasing or renting it, if you will be unloading shipping containers regularly, this is the most efficient and economical way to do so.

Can you unload a shipping container sideways?

While side opening shipping containers are available from some suppliers, they are not very common. Standard shipping containers, both 20 and 40-foot models, tend to only feature doors fitted at one end. For this reason, if you think you require a shipping container that is capable of sideways loading/unloading, you will have to speak to your supplier. 

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What is part load and full load?

For any business transporting goods between two locations, the cost of shipping can be expensive. As such, it’s important that they choose the most suitable haulage option as a method of cutting costs and maximising profits.

One of the most important factors is the size of the load being transported, with every load falling into the category of either part load or full load. In this blog, we explain what exactly part load and full load are in relation to logistics, as well as explaining how part load and full load haulage is calculated.

What is part load in logistics?

Also known as partial load, less than truckload (LTL) or less than container load (LCL), a part load is a shipment that doesn’t use the entirety of the space available for carrying it.

As not every load will fill out the method of transport it’s being moved in, freight forwarders have to find ways to use up all of the leftover space. A common way of doing this is by consolidating multiple part loads into one truck or container, utilising all of the available space and cutting the cost clients will pay to transport goods.

How to calculate a part load

If a company or client has paid for a load that fills out an entire shipping container or method of transportation, the cost of the shipment will be the price of the full container load. However, if the container or vehicle isn’t completely full, the cost will be based on shipment volume.

Freight shipment loads are usually calculated in cubic metres (CBM), and the same method would be used for calculating a part load. Simply take measurements for the height, width and length of the load, multiply them together and convert the final measurement into CBM.

What does full load mean?

Also known as full truckload (FTL) or full container load (FCL), full load is a shipment that uses all of the space in a container or method of transportation. For example, this could be an entire shipping container on a sea freight ship or all of the storage space in a road freight truck, rail freight train or air freight ship.

Although using a part load means that the cost will only be for the space taken up in the container or vehicle, full load poses several benefits. For instance, as they’re filling the entirety of the container or vehicle, the charge will be set at the cost of the vehicle rather than the cost of the load. It’s also likely to be transported quicker as, if there’s nothing else in the mode of transport, it won’t need to stop multiple times to pick up and drop off other loads.

How to calculate a full truck load

As previously mentioned, a full load is a shipment that takes up all of the space in a container or freight vehicle. As such, rather than being based on the load itself, the measurement and cost of a full load is determined by the units of measurement of the container or storage space in the freight vehicle.

For all other costs involved with moving a load, a freight forwarder will be able to use their contacts and knowledge of the logistics industry to calculate the total price paid by a business or individual requesting the freight service.

Alternatively, a business or individual could decide to carry out this process themselves. However, by doing this without the expertise of a freight forwarder, they would need to consider the cost of the container or vehicle space as well as the cost of petrol, the mileage, the type of vehicle, any fees that would need to be paid to anyone hired in the process, such as the driver of the vehicle and any fees associated with tolls, customs and additional charges that will occur as a result of moving the load from the source to the location.

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What do third party logistics companies do?

According to research experts Gartner, over 80 per cent of professionals suggested that outsourcing logistics to third party companies was important and they would intend to increase their budget for doing this beyond solely fulfilment and warehousing. Likewise, 42 per cent of the same professionals claimed they would want to invest in third-party logistics if service providers can offer an all-encompassing logistics management solution.

Third-party logistics companies can save the time and money of e-commerce companies as well as improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their logistics process and every touchpoint of the supply chain. As such, businesses that aren’t fully aware of third party logistics companies and the benefits they offer could be missing out on the opportunity to optimise the service they provide, as well as significant savings. 

In this blog, we explain exactly what third party logistics companies are, what they do and the reasons why many businesses choose to outsource logistics.

What is a third-party logistics company?

Simply put, a third-party logistics company is an external business that manages specific parts, or the entirety, of a business’ transportation operations. More specifically, areas a third-party logistics company may take control of include inventory, material handling, packaging, storage, unitisation and warehousing

A concept that became more popular in the 1970s and 80s, outsourcing to third-party companies is a common process for many businesses globally. Since the start of the 21st century, outsourcing to third-party logistics companies has continued to develop due to the growth of e-commerce and a broader range of logistics services becoming available.

Many businesses decide to put their faith in third-party logistics companies as it means delegating certain tasks and duties to an experienced, knowledgeable and functioning company. Providing a trustworthy and reliable company is chosen, outsourcing logistics can pose multiple benefits and lead to improved efficiency across the supply chain.

Why do companies use third-party logistics?

As previously mentioned, businesses often outsource their logistical responsibilities to external companies as it can offer several benefits. In an effort to offer more insight, we’ve listed some of the common perks to outsourcing to third-party logistics companies below:

Cost –

When businesses carry out logistics processes independently, the price can run high. A third-party logistics company, however, will usually perform each task in bulk, lowering the cost. Likewise, the price of logistics will be less as they will possess a number of contacts, understand the industry, the value of certain tasks and processes and have the ability to negotiate with service providers across multiple stages of the supply chain.

Efficiency –

Not only can using a third-party logistics company save time through internal members of staff being able to work on other tasks, but someone with experience in logistics is also more likely to complete tasks quicker and more efficiently. Additionally, the use of technology by third-party logistics companies often means arranging shipments and filling out paperwork are significantly less time-consuming.

Performance monitoring –

For many businesses, it can be difficult to assess the effectiveness of a supply chain alongside other ongoing tasks. However, as third party logistics companies are experts in identifying errors, gaps, inconsistencies and shortcomings in the supply chain, they can offer methods of optimising every stage, potentially benefiting the running of the business.

Resources –

Working with a third-party logistics company means that a qualified and experienced professional can handle logistics matters rather than internal members of staff. However, it also allows the business to gain access to the knowledge and resources of the third-party logistics company. Depending on the relationship between the business and the third-party logistics company, it may even be possible to access the company’s contacts, warehouse space and achieve priority over other businesses.

Technology –

Software programmes that are designed to manage logistical tasks can be expensive, and yet, it may be necessary to invest in this type of technology if a business has chosen to manage logistics internally. However, as a third party logistics company will use some form of the transportation management system, a business can acquire important data, reports and analysis from the company they’ve outsourced to and use this information to improve their supply chain.

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What does logistics mean?

An umbrella term used to describe a huge global industry, in its most basic form, logistics is simply the process of planning and implementing the efficient movement, transportation, storage and distribution of goods, typically from one point of origin to a separate point of consumption. Covering everything from road haulage and air freight to warehousing, packing and distribution, the ultimate goal of logistics is to ensure customer expectations and requirements are met in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner.

In this blog, we explain the definition of logistics before looking at the logistics industry in more detail. 

What is the definition of logistics?

As touched upon above, logistics refers to all processes involved in the coordination and transport of people or resources – be that individuals, goods, raw materials, products or equipment – from one location to another. 

Traditionally used to describe the movement of military personnel, goods and weaponry, in the modern world logistics is more commonly applied to the transport, storage and distribution of commercially available goods within different supply chains. For this reason, logistics is an essential cog that keeps the global economy moving. 

Although some companies choose to manage their own logistics services, the majority of day-to-day commercial logistics is carried out by specialised logistics companies, such as Freightline Carriers. With the growth of international business during the 20th century, and then the explosion of online retail in more recent years, the need for efficient, cost-effective professional logistics services has never been greater. The logistics industry has grown rapidly as a result of this. This has contributed to the rapid growth of the logistics industry.

What is the logistics industry?

Part of the wider transport sector, the logistics industry is made up of both private and public organisations that provide professional logistics services. As covered above, these services can include everything from road and air freight solutions to warehousing and distribution services. 

The logistics businesses that sit inside this industry typically work alongside organisations from other industries, such as retail, pharmaceuticals, events and automotives, to provide specialist advice and solutions to an array of logistical challenges. As the face of modern business continues to change, becoming more fast-paced and consumer-driven, the logistics industry continues to become increasingly significant. This has allowed many companies to carve out a lucrative area of the economy to operate within. Indeed, the UK freight and logistics industry is expected to grow by 2.5 per cent before 2026. 

Here at Freightline Carriers, we are dedicated logistics specialists that sit at the very vanguard of the logistics industry. We work with a wide range of diverse business partners from a broad spectrum of industries. This, combined with our unrivalled level of experience and seasoned team of industry professionals, ensures we fully understand and appreciate the sometimes complex and unique needs and expectations of clients from an array of industries. 

To find out more about our services and to discuss how we can help your business, get in touch today. All inquiries are responded to within 15 minutes.

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What cannot be transported via air freight?

While it’s true that almost anything can be shipped from one location to another, including hazardous materials, when it comes to air freight, some restrictions are in place. This is simply because some items – be that explosive materials, flammable liquids, and compressed gasses, for example – can become dangerous and/or unstable in transit due to the changes in pressure that occur during flight. 

To make sure you don’t fall foul of these restrictions and you’re able to organise the most appropriate form of transportation for your goods, we have put together this handy guide which outlines the items that cannot be shipped via air freight. 

Restricted air freight items 

While some items that are restricted from air freight in the UK are obvious, such as illegal drugs and prohibited weapons for example, you may actually be surprised to learn about other restricted items and materials. That’s why it is important to check out the list of restricted items below before booking an air freight service. If you want to ship items that are included on the list below, you may have to consider alternative methods of transportation. 

Restricted air freight items and materials include:

  • All forms of explosives, including fireworks, firecrackers, sparklers and detonating fuses. 
  • Compressed gas. This includes dry ice, gas cartridges/canisters, fire extinguishers, respirators, automotive airbags, aerosols, light bulbs, etc. 
  • Flammable solids. Such as activated carbon, copra, castor products, titanium powder, rubber debris, matches, etc.
  • Flammable liquids. This includes petrol, diesel, alcohol, camphor oil, engine oil, engine starting fluid, turpentine, insect sprays, air fresheners, etc.
  • Items that contain corrosive materials, including standalone batteries.
  • Toxic and potentially infectious items such as standalone lithium batteries and some pesticides.
  • Magnetic items/materials (without degaussing packaging). This includes currency detectors and heavy duty industrial magnets. 
  • Natural oxidizers, peroxides, radioactive materials and corrosive items. This includes some medicines and common lab chemicals, such as potassium permanganate and sulphuric acid.
  • Potentially dangerous biohazards, such as corpses, bones, human ashes, untanned animal hides, etc. 
  • Potentially dangerous biochemical products (including infectious materials). For example, dangerous pathogens, medical wastes and bacillus anthracis.
  • Any powders, liquids or pastes that display a danger sign on their packaging.

If you are still unsure whether or not you can ship a certain item via air freight, get in touch with us here at Freightline Carriers. We can talk through the contents of your cargo and advise on the most suitable form of transport for you.

Can you air freight lithium batteries?

The use of lithium batteries is significantly growing, meaning more and more common consumer products now contain them. This has posed a logistical challenge when it comes to shipping these items. But what exactly are the rules when it comes to shipping lithium batteries by air freight?

Well, the fact is, all standalone lithium batteries are prohibited as cargo on all international flights heading out of the UK, unless the shipper follows the correct battery packaging regulations. However, depending on the size and capabilities of the lithium batteries in question, some are allowed on flights, as long as they remain inside their associated devices. 

For example, the likes of smartphones, smartwatches, laptops, tablets and cameras that contain lithium batteries are typically permitted on air freight services. However, many air freight services will not accept cargo that contains standalone or very large lithium batteries. It is also important to check the laws surrounding the safe transportation of lithium batteries in the country you are planning to fly your goods to, as if your cargo breaches these regulations you could stand to have your goods confiscated or face a hefty fine. 

If you are planning on shipping cargo that contains lithium batteries, but are not sure if air freight is a valid option, contact us. We guarantee to respond to all enquiries within 15 minutes.

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How to load a pallet for shipping

The key to running a successful road freight service is efficiency. From warehousing and distribution processes right through to delivery and returns, finding the quickest, safest and most cost-effective methods of operating is essential. This includes loading your trucks in the most efficient way and managing and optimizing your pallet loading strategies. 

Pallets are usually constructed from rigid wood or durable plastic and facilitate the transportation of goods in large quantities by making them more portable, protective, safe to use, and generally easier to move. ‘Palletising’ a load can also make sure loading and unloading cargo is easier and faster, as well as ensuring you are best utilising the space inside your vehicle.  

However, just how is palletising done? What are the best methods of loading pallets onto a truck? And how many pallets are in a full truckload? For answers to all of these questions and more, read on as Freightline Carriers explores how to load pallets for road freight services.  

How are pallets loaded onto trucks?

Although designed to make large or multi-item collective shipments more portable and easier to transport, pallets are typically heavy and require specialist equipment to be loaded onto trucks and other HGVs. Loading crews therefore should be fully trained and equipped with forklifts and/or pallet jacks to make the loading and unloading processes as quick, safe and efficient as possible. 

While the physical side of loading pallets onto trucks is relatively simple, especially with the help of forklifts and pallet jacks, the different ways in which space can be best utilised by the methods in which the pallets are configured can be more complicated, with a range of different techniques available. The different methods you can choose, which we discuss in more detail below, all have different benefits and weaknesses, and are all suited to different types of loads and trucks. For this reason, to ensure you choose a method of loading your pallets onto your truck that takes safety and efficiency into consideration, as well as legal requirements, such as weight limits and safe load distribution, it’s important to familiarise yourself with each and calculate how many pallets you can safely fit in the vehicle before you start.

How to load pallets on a truck

There are three common methods of loading pallets on a truck, which are:

Side by side loading

As the name suggests, this method sees pallets loaded next to one another with the short end of each pallet (the end with jack/forklift openings) facing forwards and backwards. While not the most efficient method in terms of space utilisation, side by side loading is the quickest way of loading and unloading pallets, meaning valuable time can be saved. 

Turned loading

Essentially the opposite of side by sideloading, the turned loading method sees pallets placed on the truck in a way that sees the long end of each pallet facing forwards and backwards, and the jack/forklift openings facing sideways. This method provides better space utilisation than the side by side method, meaning more pallets can be loaded. It also provides more protection for the goods stored on each pallet as there is less room for shifting and sliding to occur during transit. However, not all vehicles have enough space to accommodate the turned method, while loading and unloading from the rear can also be more challenging. 

Pinwheeled loading 

This method combines side by side and turned loading and sees every other pallet loaded in a different direction. If your trailer is not large enough to turn load throughout, this method is ideal when you want to best use space. 

Whichever method you choose, it’s crucial to remember that all pallets must be inspected for signs of damage and/or weakness prior to loading, and calculations must be made to ensure payload and axle weight maximums are not exceeded. Lashings may also be required if there is too much space between pallets. This will prevent them from sliding during transit. 

How many pallets are in a full truckload?

The amount of pallets that make up a full truckload clearly varies based on the size of truck you are using and the type of pallets being loaded (UK and Euro pallets differ in size). However, here in the UK, a standard flat 13.6m trailer can carry 26 UK pallets (13 on each side), loaded using the turned method. Alternatively, the same standard UK truck can carry 33 loaded Euro pallets (15 ‘turned’ pallets on each side, plus an additional three pallets side by side across the back).

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