LCL (Less Than Container Load) is a term used to describe any shipment in an intermodal container below a total container load threshold. A less than container load typically refers to cargo that does not fill up an entire 20 or 40-foot standard shipping container.
Many items are economically produced in large batches and often don’t require the entire space of a full container load. Cargo is consolidated with other shippers per destination so that the carriers can offer regular customers lower freight rates.
Identify shipper’s needs
The first step in the process of LCL shipping is to identify all of your customer’s requirements for shipment. Determine if they are looking for volume discounts or require faster transit times.
Identifying available carriers
After identifying the requirements, it’s time to do market research and compare carrier options.
LCL shipments can be completed using any available intermodal method, including railroads, water vessels, or trucks. Carriers may have specific rules that determine how LCL freight is classified and priced, so finding a carrier who offers the best rates will depend on each request.
Once you’ve identified potential carriers, getting service agreements in writing is essential, so nothing falls through the cracks.
Creating an inventory list
The following step is to create a detailed inventory list to provide the carriers with all necessary information for your shipment. The more detail you can provide carriers, the better they will provide accurate rates and transit times.
The carrier will then use this information to determine your shipment’s FOB (free on board) point as well as any initial special handling requirements such as hazardous material identification or segregated storage.
This initial rate quote will usually include any additional surcharges, so it’s always best to double-check everything before signing anything.
Appointing a logistics service provider
Once there is an agreement between your customer and one carrier, it is time to appoint a logistics provider. Logistics providers are third-party companies who can provide additional services such as consolidation, warehousing, trucking, and receiving in different countries. They will also know the intricacies of each country’s import/export procedures.
The next step is for your customer or supplier to prepare all necessary paperwork required by customs officials in origin and destination countries. This paperwork includes commercial invoices, packing lists, bills of lading, insurance certificates, health certificates if exporting animals or food products etc.
Loading the container
Once all documents have been prepared, it’s time to load your shipment into its final shipping container! Ensuring that your cargo is packed correctly and distributed evenly throughout is vital to prevent damages.
Once your container is loaded, they will take it away for shipping inspections, including a weight and tare check and a physical damage inspection. Once the carrier has approved these final checks, you can sign for your shipment, and it will begin its journey to its destination.
Unloading from ship
After both parties have prepared and signed all necessary documentation, the cargo can be unloaded from the container’s destination port. This process involves removing each piece of cargo individually using cranes or conveyor belts which can sometimes take several hours depending on how many goods are delivered.
Once all goods have been removed from the containers, they will be transferred to trucks (or trains if you’re close enough) to be delivered to their final destination.
Discharge from ship
When the container reaches your customer or supplier, they must arrange for customs clearance in their country. After customs clears the cargo, it will be removed from the container by truck or rail, depending on its destination. At this point, all that’s left is to pick up your shipment from the local terminal.
When your shipment arrives at the destination, it will need customs clearance. After this process is finished, the carrier will notify the importer or third-party logistics service provider of delivery to arrange for unloading and final delivery.
Finding the best logistics provider is essential to ensure a smooth journey for your valuable goods—whether personal or business. Always read trusted reviews from real customers and get a few comparative and comprehensive quotations before deciding on your final LCL shipment provider.