What is a Freight Forwarder and What is its Role in Ocean Container Shipping?
If you are involved in the shipping industry, you may have come across the term "freight forwarder." But what exactly is a freight forwarder and what is their role in ocean container shipping?
A freight forwarder is a company that specializes in the transportation of goods from one place to another. They act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers and handle all aspects of the shipping process, including arranging transport, handling customs clearance, and coordinating deliveries. In the context of ocean container shipping, a freight forwarder is responsible for organizing the movement of containers from the shipper's location to the port of loading, and then from the port of discharge to the consignee's location.
Why is a Freight Forwarder Needed?
There are several reasons why a freight forwarder is needed in the shipping industry:
Expertise and knowledge: Freight forwarders have extensive knowledge of the shipping industry and are well-versed in the rules and regulations that govern the movement of goods. They can help shippers navigate the complex process of international shipping, ensuring that all necessary documentation is in order and that the shipment is compliant with customs laws.
Cost savings: Freight forwarders have strong relationships with carriers and can negotiate favorable rates on behalf of their clients. They also have access to a range of transport options, allowing them to find the most cost-effective solution for each shipment.
Hassle-free shipping: Working with a freight forwarder means that shippers do not have to worry about the logistics of their shipment. The freight forwarder takes care of everything, from arranging transport to coordinating deliveries.
Value-Added Services Provided by Freight Forwarders
In addition to the services mentioned above, freight forwarders often provide a range of value-added services to their clients. These can include:
Warehousing and distribution: Freight forwarders can provide storage and distribution services, allowing shippers to consolidate their cargo in one place before it is shipped.
Customs clearance: Freight forwarders can assist with customs clearance, ensuring that shipments are compliant with all necessary regulations.
Insurance: Freight forwarders can arrange insurance coverage for shipments, providing added protection for shippers.
Tracking and visibility: Freight forwarders can provide real-time tracking and visibility of shipments, allowing shippers to keep track of their cargo at all times.
Difference Between Freight Forwarders and Freight Brokers
It's important to note that there is a difference between freight forwarders and freight brokers. While both parties are involved in the transportation of goods, freight forwarders are responsible for the physical movement of the cargo, while freight brokers act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers, matching available cargo with available transport. Freight brokers do not handle the actual movement of the cargo, but rather facilitate the connection between the shipper and the carrier.
In summary, a freight forwarder is a company that specializes in the transportation of goods and handles all aspects of the shipping process, from arranging transport to coordinating deliveries. They provide expertise, cost savings, and hassle-free shipping to their clients, as well as a range of value-added services. It's important to note that freight forwarders are different from freight brokers, who act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers but do not handle the actual movement of the cargo.