What are FCL and LCL Freight and the Key Considerations for Ocean Shipping?

In the shipping industry, two standard container sizes are commonly used:

– The 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU)

– The 40-foot equivalent unit (FEU).

However, if your goods don’t fully occupy a 40-foot container, there is an alternative called Less than Container Load or LCL shipment.

What is LCL shipping?

LCL, short for less than container load, means you utilize only a fraction of a shipping container’s space. The unused portion is filled with goods from other individuals or businesses.

LCL freight is ideal for shipping small volumes of cargo, such as boxes and pallets. You are charged based on the space your cargo occupies, sharing both the space and costs with others.

What is FCL shipping?

Conversely, Full Container Load shipping (FCL) involves using and paying for an entire container. FCL freight is suitable when you have sufficient cargo to fill a container. The decision also depends on the container size.

For instance, you might fill a 20-foot container but not a 40-foot one. Some businesses choose FCL sea freight even if they nearly fill a container, as the cost difference is minimal.

Some key considerations while choosing between FCL and LCL

Selecting between LCL and FCL freight should not solely rely on cost or shipment size. The choice between FCL and LCL sea freight affects various aspects of ocean shipping services. The following are a few of the considerations to keep in mind when making your decision:

1) Security

Choosing between LCL and FCL freight should not only be about cost or shipment size. The decision impacts various aspects of ocean shipping services. Consider the following factors to make the right choice for your shipment.

– Transit time

– Cargo security

– Flexibility.

2) Speed

When sharing a container with multiple shipments in LCL freight, expect additional processing time for unloading, loading, and separating goods. This process can be longer compared to FCL freight. Also, in LCL ocean freight, waiting for other goods to arrive before loading is possible.

3) Flexibility

LCL sea freight provides flexibility for dividing shipments to different destinations, unlike FCL. It allows splitting cargo across multiple shared containers, cutting costs on warehousing, unloading, and sorting at arrival. For example, using LCL to sort cargo for specific US cities saves time and money compared to doing so at the initial port.

4) Cost

LCL sea freight offers flexibility by dividing shipments to various destinations, reducing costs on warehousing and sorting. For instance, sorting cargo for specific US cities with LCL saves time and money.

5) Availability

Businesses may choose LCL freight when FCL containers are scarce, especially before holidays like Chinese New Year when FCL is in high demand. During such periods, LCL shipping might offer quicker transportation options.

6) Volume

Your shipment volume largely influences your choice between FCL and LCL freight. For instance, single-package LCL shipments can reach up to 3,000kg and 29 CBM, while the booking maximum is 20,000kg and 60 CBM.

Final word

Maple Sourcing Limited has been supporting their overseas clients in the shipping of their products, and you can follow on Facebook to know the latest status of your shipment.

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