Partial shipments, or shipments that do not fill the entire capacity, are common in the supply chain. Instead of sending partial shipments, freight consolidation may be a better way to save money and increase efficiency.

What is freight consolidation? 

Freight consolidation is a shipping method in which a consolidator combines multiple individual LCL shipments from different shippers into one full container shipment. Shippers will be able to obtain a much better shipping rate. When the full container shipment arrives at its destination, it is deconsolidated into individual LCL shipments.

Benefits of using a consolidated freight service 

Cost Savings 

Shippers often may only need to use half of a trailer, but must pay for the entire space. Consolidation services combine multiple LTL shipments bound for similar destinations into a full truckload, and you only pay for the space your freight occupies.

Increased Flexibility 

Shippers will increase their flexibility in their shipping needs and make their orders more timely. Freight consolidation usually provides faster transit times as well as shorter waiting times for small loads. Having your freight stored at a consolidation center ensures that your goods are ready to ship when they are needed. 

More Control Over the Shipping Process

Shippers also have more control over their due dates and production schedules when they use freight consolidation. They will also be able to manage the entire distribution chain on their own or with the help of a logistics partner. With more control over their shipments, they will be notified sooner when anything goes wrong, such as when items are sent to the wrong location.

Challenges of Consolidated Freight Shipping

Higher Chance of Shipment Damage  

Consolidated shipments are handled and processed more thoroughly than expedited shipments. With so many touchpoints and service providers, the entire process can be perplexing. Destinations can vary depending on the company. As a result, the container may have to be loaded and unloaded several times, increasing the risk of loss or damage.

Organization and Planning 

To function properly, consolidation necessitates a network of customers, carriers, processing centers, and lanes that are all in sync with one another. Furthermore, because LTL freight has many specifications and restrictions, such as weight, freight class, dimensions, or deadline, these shipments require a lot more attention to detail in order to work with other freight. It can be costly for businesses to devote resources to coordinating these complex systems.

Delivery Time 

Due to handling and processing requirements, consolidated shipping may take longer than standard expedited shipping. The additional time required for these processes, as well as for carriers to combine shipments to make a full load, can result in lost revenue. Shippers may also be concerned about causing a line down if the freight does not arrive by the deadline.

When to use consolidated freight service? 

Freight that should be consolidated: 

  • Merchandise that can be easily loaded and doesn’t require extra care 
  • General goods 
  • Clothings, tech parts, textiles that are properly packaged and will not affect other containers 
  • Freight with inventory costs that exceed transportation costs. 

Freight that shouldn’t be consolidated: 

  • Merchandise that is bulky or fragile
  • Freight that must be kept at a specific temperature 
  • Products that are subject to customs inspection 
  • Hazardous materials 

How SFI can help 

If you are unsure whether to choose consolidation or expedited freight services for your shipments, feel free to contact us. With 9+ years of experience in the freight forwarding industry, we will be able to provide the best option for your freight shipping needs.