Previously I had posted an article “Who is a Freight Forwarder“..
If that article gave you a good introduction into the activities of a freight forwarder, this below article will give you a glimpse into “A day in the life of a Freight Forwarder“..
This is a guest post from a REAL LIFE FREIGHT FORWARDER..
Beep … ! Ping … ! Tringg …… ! Hello, How may I help you ?!
So begins a day in the life of a Freight Forwarder. The Freight Forwarder is nothing short of a multi tasker bringing together the shipper with the various other intermediaries in the supply chain process.
Essentially, what is it that the freight forwarder does ??
The Shipper has many challenges in the export of his cargo. He has to make the sale, produce or procure the goods, liaise with the local regulatory authorities, prepare the documentation related to the shipment and banking, arrange the physical shipment and ensure that the Consignee receives the goods in apparent good order and condition.
Here is where the Freight Forwarder steps in …
The Forwarder assumes the responsibility of the logistics process involved with the shipment.
Depending on terms of the contract (Incoterms), the Forwarder performs the following tasks.
- Arrange the Transportation for the pick up of the cargo from the factory / warehouse of the shipper.
- Arrange the sorting, labelling, packing, palletization, etc at the Container Freight Station, if such services are required.
- Arrange the customs clearance process necessary to ensure the smooth export of the cargo.
- Arrange the booking of space with the Carriers.
- Ensure that the cargo is loaded on board in liaison with the Carrier.
- Completing the Bill of Lading Process on behalf of the shipper.
- Update the shipper about the shipment status at regular intervals.
- Arrange the destination delivery process which may include customs clearance and transportation to the Consignee’s premises.
While these above tasks seem fairly simple, there are many challenges in the process and there can be many a slip between the cup and the lip !!
Every country has its own unique set of issues in the export process. Some of the reasons for the same may be infrastructural deficiencies related to road, rail and port network, Congestion, Strikes, Governmental Documentation bottlenecks, etc.
The Shipper’s expectation here is that Freight Forwarder circumvents these issues and adhere to the logistics plan that has been committed to the Consignee. The Shipper judges the efficiency of the forwarder based on his ability to find solutions to the problems in the supply chain process.
Here is where the struggle and the juggle starts …
- Transport vehicles are booked, they have to arrive the factory on time.
- Is the truck reporting to the plant qualified to carry the weight expected to be stuffed, safety requirements of the plant viz a viz the vehicle reporting,
- Is the trip insured ?
- Is the driver trained to carry the specific cargo (Haz or OOG) ?
- Has he picked up the empty container on time ?
- Has he reported on time ?
- Customs Clearance teams have to be ready with the documentation as the vehicle approaches the port for gate in of the container.
- Are all the documents in place as per the law of the land.
- Does the cargo need any customs inspection ?
- Are all the statutory permissions available so that the container can be gated in smoothly ?
- Booking Confirmation from the Carrier
- Has the booking confirmation come from the carrier ?
- Is the vessel coming in on time ? (Yes, many countries have port congestion, draft and weather restrictions)
- Is the vessels gate open to match the transport vehicles arrival to the port area ?
- Is the carrier facing any space issues due to over booking ?
- Shipping Line Documentation
- Has your team been able to complete the Bill of Lading documentation with the carrier as per their cut off ?
- Is the VGM process complete as per the carrier’s format and cut off ?
- Has the BL been collected from the Carrier and dispatched to the customer ?
- Container Tracking and co-ordination with overseas agents.
- Has your team sent the pre alert intimation to the overseas agents office ?
- Has the arrival notice and customs clearance process been initiated ?
- Has the delivery of the cargo been effected on time to meet the consignee’s schedules ?
While all these process are going on at the back office, the forwarder inherently remains a service provider and despite all the frayed nerves and heart burns, the motto always remains services with a smile …
No matter how unreasonable the shippers request may sound, or how the haulier failed to reach the factory on time, or the difficult customs officer who has to be convinced or the carrier who suddenly realised that the vessel is now full and they have no space left for your container, the forwarders has only one response always …..
Yes Sir ! your cargo will go on the planned vessel !!!!
For those seeking a thrill, beating the odds, racing the clock, feeling the lure of the unknown and that adrenaline pump while still at work, Freight Forwarding is where the action is !!