Utilizing Warehousing Services Offered by Approved Freight Forwarders will Save You Green & a Whole Lot of Heartburn.

People with long-term, regular international shipping needs should utilize warehousing services offered by approved freight forwarders.  When shipments are constant, you’ll likely need warehouse space to store your cargo all over the planet.

But warehousing can get expensive and rack up quite a few headaches if not handled properly, so here are 7 ways you’ll avoid trouble AND save money by bringing in an approved freight forwarder.

We have a customer that ships dry foods from the United States to Panama on a monthly basis by full container load (FCL) shipping, and I’m going to use them as our example today to illustrate how important warehousing is to their operation.

1. Getting off on the right foot

Sea containers have specific size limitations, so the knowledge of the quantities, weights, and volumes of the cargoes is essential to container loading planning.  Once a supplier delivers their cargo to the forwarder’s warehouse, a dock receipt or on-hand report is created.

The spreadsheet will indicate all of the pertinent information on hand at the forwarder’s warehouse.  This is necessary for knowing when enough cargo is stored and can be consolidated within a sea container. Remember, this is FCL shipping, so warehousing services must be utilized until the quotas are met.

This spreadsheet can then be sent to the overseas customer detailing the cargo on hand. Once enough cargo is on hand at the forwarder’s warehouse to completely fill a 45 foot sea container, the shipping arrangements can be made, starting with securing the booking space with the steamship line.

2. Avoiding headaches

A good forwarder does not wait for their customer to inform them of required corrections on each shipment, but rather, will have standard operational procedures that manage this.

For example, our customer in Panama may require segregation handling of their consolidated cargoes at their forwarder’s warehouse.  Certain items in the consolidated container may need to be consigned differently than other items, and billing arrangements and export documentation may need to be prepared according to the customer’s specifications.

Shipments to Latin America particularly involve more regulations involving export documentation than do shipments to other world regions.

3. Avoiding hazardous costs

Remember our racing client we wrote about a few blogs ago? Auto transport is something we help people with quite often, so even though you’re not racing the European circuit, you may need help with this at some point or another.

Most individuals don’t have the required knowledge of safe vehicle loading and the proper blocking and bracing of automobiles within sea export containers.  People looking for the most economical rates for shipping automobiles can automatically reduce their costs by eliminating the hazardous elements from their shipments. 

International shipping regulations typically require an automobile to be drained of hazardous fluids such as gasoline and oil so that no more than one quarter of a tank remains in addition to battery cables being disconnected.  By following these simple procedures, you can then avoid the extra expense and work of shipping a hazardous item which would otherwise add hundreds if not thousands of dollars to the freight cost.

This is but one example, as “hazardous cargo” comes in many forms.

4. Saving with Shipping Lines

Since most in your situation, generally speaking, do not have enough freight volume for setting up contracts directly with the steamship lines, which typically have yearly volume requirements of 50 FEU (forty foot equivalent container load) per year or more, you need the services of reliable freight forwarders who have the contracts with the lines.

Contract rates are much lower than the one-time tariff rates offered by the lines, because they are established on the guarantee of the forwarder that they can supply the required minimum yearly volume of international shipping containers.

Even when applying their commission or profit margin to a contract rate, a forwarder can offer a much lower rate to a customer using their contracts with the lines than the customer would be able to obtain from a spot tariff rate.

5. Security

Warehouses have to be compliant with regulations set forth by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), and they are often subject to random visits by both agencies to ensure compliance with all federal rules. 

These rules include locked and closed warehouse doors during business hours, the placement of security cameras, and screening and access requirements for anyone wishing to visit the warehouse, space allotments for hazardous cargoes. 

For both compliance and security of your cargo, you can sleep better at night knowing your freight is stored in a safe warehouse when using the services of a licensed, bonded, and certified freight forwarder.  For example, our customers’ cargo are always under videotape surveillance, because we only use approved and compliant warehousing. 

All personnel with access to warehouse cargoes must be approved and certified by the TSA with full background checks and specialized training in security threat assessments.

6. More than storage

Bonded forwarder warehouses are fully equipped to provide their customers with a whole range of other services, including re-packing in compliance for international air- and sea-worthiness, sea container loading and loading, palletization, cargo segregation, cargo consolidation, cargo inspection, vehicle storage and loading and unloading, just to name a few.

7. Navigating through abnormalities

During the port crisis of last year, a forwarder’s warehousing services were highly beneficial to customers who could not hold their freight to wait for the port to accept their sea containers.  

Customers needing their shipments picked up urgently perhaps so they could close their monthly accounts presented unique challenges to freight forwarders during this port congestion crisis.  Many times, the freight would be picked up from the customers and then stored at the forwarders’ warehouses until the time when the port would accept the in-gating of the loaded sea containers.

Sometimes, even fully loaded sea containers that were already locked and sealed were stored with the full truck chassis inside the warehouses that were large enough and had special ramp access until the port acceptance.


International shipping poses many challenges to those unfamiliar with the ever-moving landscape, and when warehousing becomes a necessity, it’s great to have freight forwarders at your side to help you save money and heartburn.

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