Over 2 billion metric tons of various types of items are shipped through containers and via air flights on an annual basis. Businesses and individuals require the items at the right time, in the right form and at the right cost, but the dynamics and logistics of moving these cargoes from one part of the world could be really intricate – sometimes intimidating.
Understanding and executing the dynamics of cargo movements, and getting the objectives of right time, right cost and safety is not within the expertise of merchants involved in the transactions. Rather, professional freight forwarders are trained and equipped with what it makes to fulfill transportation, storage and distribution of cargoes.
Who is a freight forwarder?
A freight forwarder is a professional who assists individuals and organisations to organise their shipments from the supplier or manufacturer and contracts a carrier (sea, air, road and rail transporters) to move the goods from one destination to another, usually inter-nation’s borders. The forwarder uses his expertise in international logistics network to engage the required shipping mode carrier to ship the goods to required destination.
Undoubtedly, your choice of a freight forwarder will determine how efficient your supply chain system is. But how do you identify a competent and efficient freight forwarder? The following qualities are instructive.
Organisation in this context would mean the entire structure of the freight forwarder’s business. Right from the first interaction with a freight forwarder, you can tell how efficient the organisation is. What is the quality of staff, the communication skills, and the processes around which the business is run? Freight forwarding agents are expected to be detailed, well-organised and meticulous. Where these characteristics are obviously lacking, it should be a red flag for an importer or exporter.
Freight forwarders are expected to be versatile. The need for this versatility rests on the fact that they must be adaptable and dynamic. Changes do occur in international logistics and some of them may be completely unexpected. The ability of the forwarder to swiftly adjust and adapt processes in order to meet the objectives of her clients is of utmost importance. Prior to, or in the course of dealing with the forwarding agent, look for how responsive they are to changes in your requests or to regulatory or non-regulatory requirements – including speed and cost variations.
How well connected and the quality of network internationally is a very crucial factor to determine how efficient your freight forwarder would be. Mind you, it’s not just connections in the countries you import from or export to, a wider range of international partnership is an indication of how reliable or trustworthy the freight forwarder has been over time. However, it’s not just in number but also in the quality of the partners kept.
Not much needs to be said on this. Your freight forwarder is expected to be an active communicator, regularly updating you on the status of your cargoes and ways by which you can save time, cost and ensure the safety of your items. Transparency can be measured by how frequently your forwarder communicates with you and the quality and veracity of the information. Always be on the watch-out when your potential or current freight forwarder in slow, inconsistent and shady in the information provided to you.
This article is written and published by Pseudonet Logistics.
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