The tricky business of securing export schedules
Are you exporting in large quantities? Perhaps you should look into utilising the expertise of a freight forwarder.
Exporting cargo by sea freight is the most popular and cost effective way of transporting your goods to overseas markets. However, a dose of extra planning is required to ensure your export schedule is secure. This means locking in space with your shipping line at least three to four weeks from your scheduled ship date. A little forward planning and a reliable freight forwarder can go a long way in helping to ensure your cargo reaches your customers in time.
Although the balance of trade will show that Australia’s imports far outweigh our exports in dollar terms, the major containerised exports are large volume shipments of low-value bulk goods such as grains, cotton and waste paper. These goods are usually exported in multiple container lots. They are heavy and restrict the number of containers that can be loaded onto a vessel.
For example, an inbound container ship from Asia might be able to carry 5500 TEUs or Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units but due to dead weight capacity it might be carrying 4000 import TEUs. On average, import containers have a cargo weight of eight tonnes whereas export bulk goods in containers such as mentioned previously will have a total cargo weight of 18 tonnes. Therefore the vessel might only be able to carry 2000 export containers.
Another factor affecting export capacity is that a poor demand for space on the import leg often results in shipping lines deleting voyages from their schedules to avoid sending out vessels poorly loaded. This effectively takes a whole vessel out of the schedule for both the import and export legs resulting in space constraints for export bookings. In the first six months of 2012, the shipping lines deleted up to forty voyages resulting in export bookings being consolidated onto fewer ships. At times this would leave some of the major shipping lines fully booked up to six weeks in advance.
With all these factors at play coupled with the complexity of shipping goods that require special equipment and specialised care, it pays to utilise the services of an experienced freight forwarder who have established relationships with a number of shipping lines that service the same routes. You will have a much greater opportunity to secure the space you need and deliver your export cargo to clients.