Part 1: The Freight Forwarder
Moving goods seamlessly from Point A to Point B – often across nations, oceans, and continents – takes a monumental global logistics effort. The supply chain process is akin to a well-orchestrated performance with individual players comprised of freight forwarders, third-party logistics providers, allegiances between World Cargo Alliance (WCA) agents and others, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers.
Each plays a vital role in assuring that whether the goods are lumber supplies, jet engines, furniture, household goods, appliances, or other products, they travel from their origination point to their final destination on a timely, careful, well-orchestrated journey.
One analogy? Think of the famous 1950s-era Rat Pack performing in Las Vegas; each performer was exceptional, yet different, each contributing to the ultimate performance delivery. So, in this series of blogs, we’ll look at the multiple stage players along the global supply chain – starting first with the inimitable, the incomparable, the ever-talented “Ol’ Blues Eyes” of the pack: the Freight Forwarder.
The Movers: Freight Forwarders Take Goods Across the Globe, Using Every Means of Transport
Getting the right help in shipping goods from one spot to another across the globe is critical. In this first article about the top players on the global supply chain stage,” we’ll examine the vital role of freight forwarders. So, who are they? What’s their role? And how can they help your business?
Simply put, a freight forwarder can assist by arranging for shipments to be picked up, handling the required paperwork, and managing the shipping process all along the journey to market. Often, the freight forwarder will also serve as a broker – an intermediary who can work with various types of transportation companies to get your goods from the starting point to the finish line – shipping from Point A to Point B.
For instance, companies might require critical supplies or ingredients to be brought from overseas factories to domestic manufacturing plants, where products are then constructed into finished products ready for sale to consumers. A freight forwarder can manage that shipping process every step of the way, as they’re also experts in international and domestic shipping regulations and tariffs.
So, they can arrange for your goods to be picked up in a foreign destination by truck, transported to a port, and then loaded into a cargo ship. Then, those goods might be picked up by truck at a U.S. port and transported to an airport or rail station, with the final transportation segment being yet another truck transport to a manufacturing facility.
Perhaps another good analogy? When goods are moving – on ocean ships, planes, trains, or roadways — a good freight forwarder serves as a “transportation ringmaster” to direct the action as the goods move throughout the globe. That can help avoid unnecessary delays, costing both time and money in deliveries. Freight forwarders can also advise clients about how to ship goods safely or what kind of insurance may be needed.
Typically, freight forwarders are “movers” who have established advantageous rates with major transportation suppliers including oceangoing vessel operators, shipping container companies, truck firms, railroad operators, cargo terminals, and others. Also, at times, some freight forwarders have limited, short-term warehousing.
Freight forwarders are also highly knowledgeable in dealing with foreign and domestic customs requirements and they know the officials running the show at borders. Keep in mind that customs and excise requirements can be complex. So, it’s a big benefit when veteran freight forwarders have time-tested relationships with customs officials. Let’s just say that freight forwarders may get better service than a business owner working on his or her own, particularly if the business owner makes mistakes on any required customs paperwork. That could also cause shipping delays or a potential fine.
3PLs in a Supporting Role
At times, freight forwarders and another type of important supply chain player, a third-party logistics provider or 3PL, will work together too. For instance, if an order is particularly complex or a 3PL is managing other aspects of a challenging shipment, it may turn to a freight forwarder to assist strictly on the “movement” of goods for the project. But while, at times, the two types of companies work together, most of the time, they have quite different roles.
Essentially, third-party logistics companies provide invaluable logistics outsourcing support and warehousing activities. In addition, 3PLs are often more fully integrated into multiple aspects of a customer’s business. Think “boots on the ground” in helping in storing and packing goods, fulfilling the orders, and, in some cases, even handling the products before they’re even shipped. So, stay tuned for our next blog with more about 3PLs and the many positive benefits they offer to customers.
About Prime Logistics Group
One of four divisions of Prime Group, an international logistics services conglomerate founded in Ecuador in 2001, Prime Logistics serves to streamline, optimize, and expedite freight to and from the U.S. for a wide range of major industries.
With offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Bogota, Quito, and Amsterdam, Prime Logistics capitalizes on its long-time relationships with the major air carriers, ocean lines, and truckers to offer competitive rates in securing ample space to destinations all around the world.
For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.PrimeLogisticsGroup.com.