LCL Sea Freight Shipping

What is LCL?

‘LCL’ is an acronym for ‘Less than Container Load’ and is referring to the volume of the consignment you are shipping. If you are only shipping one or two pallets this is not enough to fill a 20 or 40 foot shipping container. Therefore your shipment would be packed into a shipping container with many other company’s goods on a groupage service planned for the same destination. 

Shipping Cost

As LCL is a groupage service this makes the shipping rate very competitive especially over quicker, primarily weight based services services such as airfreight. A LCL shipment is priced according to the volume it takes up in the container and is calculated using cubic metres (cbm). If you can reduce the cbm volume of your shipment without compromising the protection of the goods you can save money. There are 33 cbm in a 20-foot container and 67 in a 40-foot shipping container.

Destination Costs

The destination costs can often catch companies out – the shipping rate can be very low but the local destination costs and terminal charges can sometimes be high. Look into all available local ports at the destination. It is always good practice to get a quotation for the destination costs including delivery and customs clearance before shipping.

Transit Time

The transit time depends on the route taken and your shipping agent can quote this to you. Docking dates are not always accurate as ships can be delayed due to bad weather or high volume. After the ship has docked delays can also happen due to bad weather and high winds due to the cranes used to unload the shipping containers. 

Sea freight container crane

So, once docked, be sure to allow time for unloading and unpacking of the container, customs clearance and delivery booking. This will be slower than a full container load shipment as the whole container needs to be emptied and cleared. Overall if you need have time on your side LCL can be a great benefit to you.

Published by A Kennedy

An award winning, UK based, International Logistics Manager for a multinational tool company. Over 25 years experience in international logistics and supply chain management. Elected ‘Chartered Status’ by the CILT and ‘Expert Status’ by the IoSCM.

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