Let us take you to the roots of container shipping; Yes, we are talking about container logistics. We’ll go through the world of container logistics with all its hiccups and rules. Join us on the tour – you might even learn a thing or two on the way!
Before we get going, let’s start with the basics. What exactly do we mean when we talk about container logistics? If we ask the BusinessDictionary this is what container logistics is:
“The arrangement of shipping containers within a vessel or transport mode. A logistics plan may include the order in which containers must be loaded, along with the cargo handling and freight securing instructions”.
So, in other words, container logistics is the planning and execution of transport and storage of containers from the origin to the delivery at its final destination.
Now, that we have that settled, let’s get into the details of our tour!
Stop 1: When the need for container logistics arise!
The first stop on the worldwide Container Logistics Tour is at the busy companies in charge of finding containers for their customers. These firms help people ship the commodities, that they buy far away from where they live.
The firms are often you guys, the freight forwarders and NVOCCs. When a company approaches you, in need of having commodities shipped, you will be in charge of planning the entire process from container pickup to delivery.
Being the first part of this container logistics chain, you have a series of decisions you need to make. As well as procedures to take care of.
You must decide on the type of container you want to use. The choice stands between SOC containers and COC containers.
To make this choice the freight forwarder needs to figure out what will give the most bang for the buck. For most export routes COC containers are the go-to choice. But if you ship to a surplus location, SOC containers can be a more cost-efficient method. With SOC containers you won’t have to pay for demurrage and detention charges if the containers are stuck at congested ports.
Depending on the route it can be difficult to find a container. This is where Container xChange can make your life as a freight forwarder easier.
You see, it doesn’t have to be that difficult finding a SOC partner. We built an online platform, where all you need to do is type in the location and destination of your cargo. You will within minutes find containers from verified businesses, that are ready to transport your freight.
Click on the banner below and request a demo to see what we can do for you!
Choosing the type of containers is one of the first steps. Freight forwarders and NVOCCs are also in charge of producing many of the papers needed to document the shipment. We’ll talk more about the necessary documentation when we get to our third stop!
But first, hop on and we’ll make a quick stop at our second location!
Stop 2: Meet me at the factory
Here, at the Chinese factory, we need to get all the jackets and vests loaded into this 40ft container.
When we’re done, there’s something else we need to remember. The container seal. This seal seals the doors of the container either by cable or bolt. The seal is meant to stay on until arrival and will show if the container has been opened in transit.
All container seals have an identification number. The numbers must match with the ones on the Bill of Ladings. Otherwise, you can lose valuable time in the port, with customs holding back the container for inspection, and going in a frenzy over the documentation.
But for the container to reach the port, it’ll have to be transported there. How the container gets to the port is up to the freight forwarders. Again, it’s all about choosing the best type of transport for the situation. In some cases, trucking containers to the port is the smartest. Other times, transporting it by train for stretches of the way and with trucks on other stretches is a better solution.
After sporting that workout, let’s have a small break. In the meantime, I’ll explain some of the necessary paperwork for you!
Stop 3: All that paper
An important, but not so sexy, part of container logistics is the paperwork. They’re important for all parties involved in the transaction – including the customs at the ports.
So, let’s have a look at some of the documents freight forwarders can be in charge of!
The documented container logistics
In international trade, the commercial invoice is one of the most important documents. It serves as a legal document issued by the seller to the buyer. It has the statute of a binding contract and proof of sale. In some cases, the commercial invoice can help you find out if you need an export license.
The Certificate of Origin confirms the country of origin of the freight. This document can be a statement added to the commercial invoice or a certificate on its own. Both should satisfy customs in most countries.
Another very important and legally binding document is the Bill of Lading. The Bill of Lading works as a contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier. It provides the details needed to process the shipment and invoice it correctly. This document must be filled out with the correct information, such as the number on the container seal, as it otherwise will serve as a red flag for customs.
Hold on, we’re almost through – and then we’ll head to the port!
Another vital document is the Export Packing List. It tells in detail about all the products and packaging contained in each shipment. This document will be used by parties along the container logistics chain to ensure a smooth shipping process.
Stop 4: The precious waiting time
Now, let’s move on to something a bit more exciting! The time when the containers finally arrive at the port.
This is the time where the documentation is checked, and the containers will be unloaded from the vessel.
But the not so exciting part is the waiting. Due to congested ports, the container can be stuck in the port for a long time. Time that costs money. But if you have made use of SOC containers, the delay won’t be quite as costly, as you’ll be free of the detention and demurrage fees, you might encounter when using COC containers.
Stop 5: Ready to get going
Still in the port, the container waits for a chassis to pick it up. How busy you’ll be, getting that container out of the port, depends on the number of free days you have agreed to in the contract.
When it’s finally loaded onto chassis and ready to go, the container will head towards the last stop on the tour – the distribution center.
Let’s tag along!
Stop 6: End destination for you and the container logistics chain
Not far from the port, the container arrives at the distribution center. The place, that the owner of the container has wished it to be delivered at. From here, the container will be unloaded, and the different orders will be divided. Ready to head for the stores to be sold.
Now the container will wait until it’s again needed for transporting shipments to another part of the world.
Once again, starting the container logistics process all over.
Thank you for joining us on our tour around the world! We hope to see you again soon – click on the banner and find SOC containers for your own container logistics tour around the world 😊