Reflecting on the beginning of my shipping career in the late 1980s, I’m astounded by the progress the industry has made compared to the vintage shipping methods of those days..
Ships were considerably smaller, the number and volume of containers were lesser, documentation traveled at a snail’s pace, communication options were restricted, and the concept of the internet as we know it was practically non-existent.. It’s truly astonishing..!!
Back then, if I needed to determine the best shipping route from Point A to B, my options were limited – perusing shipping schedules in industry publications like EXIM in India (a luxury not all countries had) and reaching out to shipping agents or agencies individually to figure out who was offering the desired route.. At times, I would even have to consult with port authorities or wharf personnel for such information..
So, when the opportunity to evaluate Fluent Cargo’s service offerings arose, I seized it with both hands.. And why wouldn’t I..?? I really wanted to test one of their taglines “International shipment planning & research ought to be as easy as planning a holiday”..
The option to search the routing is extremely simple.. Simply provide the name of the country, city, port, or address and get the complete details from point of origin to destination.. In this case, I gave a query from an area around Johannesburg to the Capital of Mongolia..
The site returned several options via air and sea.. Not just that, it provides concise information about the route, transit time, frequency of the mode of transport, the number of transshipments (if any), and the details of the carrier..
The route planning page provides all the features you need to make your shipment decisions across all modes of transport.. The ability to compare air, ocean, and road routes from a single platform is a game-changer..
The level of detail provided on the routes was fantastic with the site giving me 3 options each by air and sea both integrating pre-carriage and on-carriage from the Port of Load and Port of Discharge respectively..
The sea leg provides the transhipment layover days at Singapore which was the most optimal route chosen by the site.. Sometimes customers want their cargo to reach their destination around a specific time frame mostly due to known documentary delays from POL, avoiding new tariffs at POD etc.. The site has that covered too, as it provides multiple options with multiple layovers..
In the example I used, it gave me 11 routing options from the quickest at 26 days to the longest being 42 days across various routes and multiple transhipment ports..
Want to see the live schedules of the carriers and selected options, no problem, the site also has options for that giving you the details of the schedule including
- The name and IMO number of the vessel
- Carrying Capacity of the vessel
- Name of the carrier
I found the inclusion of the IMO number quite useful as it is used by several major shippers, banks, etc to check for compliance against sanctioned ship owners, country of registration, age, and other details..
The route planning tool also provides options for you to compare two schedules and make an informed decision.. In the subject example, it showed the comparison between two shipping lines one with a single transhipment and the other with two transshipments.. This again could be useful for customers as one of the lines may be cheaper than the other while the difference in transit time was only 13 hours..
The air option also provided similar views complete with distance traveled and layover time etc..
Certain cargoes cannot transit/touch certain ports – for example, hunting trophies in the USA, alcohol via Saudi ports or certain carriers do not accept certain cargoes on their ships.. Fluent’s route planning tool caters to these restrictions, allowing you the option to select the ports and carriers to avoid on the route..
Fluent’s shipping schedules feature offers a modern and easy-to-use search tool that allows you to view all the available options between the origin and destination with a filter to choose specific carriers and service types..
The scheduling tool covers almost every major airport and airline including all passenger services (that take cargo) as well as many freight-only services and also provides up-to-date arrival and departure information.
The scheduling tool goes above and beyond with features like arrival delay predictions, offering insightful data that helps avoid potential bottlenecks in the logistics process.. With the coverage extending to every major seaport and airport and hundreds of shipping carriers in their index, the platform ensures a broad spectrum of options for any logistics requirement..
The Port Finder is another interactive and interesting feature for users for business purposes and even as a learning tool for people in the shipping industry and I would say even to teach your children a bit about geography.. 😊
A simple name search of a city, port or address provides details of the number of airports and seaports close to that area.. Users are also able to choose the radius for their search area..
Once you have chosen your options, it provides further details about the port, the number and name of carriers servicing these ports, the daily departures, and the direct connections..
A very useful data set is the port congestion data set that is provided which shows the berthing delay that the ship is expected to experience at this port.. This data is provided by vessel sizes such as Post Panamax, Panamax, Feeder, and Feeder Max..
There is also an option to get the full details of the port and also about seaports and airports near this port.. This port detail page also provides information on access to the seaport such as by road, rail, and inland waterway, and also what type of cargoes are handled at this port such as bulk, break bulk, containers, Gas etc..
Being able to find the closest airport or seaport, explore their connections, and view real-time congestion data significantly simplifies the shipment planning process.. This feature alone will save users countless hours of research and planning..
Coupled with the Carrier Directory which houses information on all major Air and Ocean service providers all in one place, these features will make navigating the complex world of route planning and shipping significantly easier..
Fluent Cargo has created a feature-rich and User-friendly Interface combining user-friendly design with a robust feature set.. The ability to compare air, ocean, and road routes from a single platform is a game-changer..
Additionally, the tool provides transit times and alternative routes, helping to optimize shipping decisions effectively.. The filtering options make it easy to fine-tune results, catering to specific needs based on carrier, vehicle type, and complexity of the route..
Reliable and Up-to-date Information Fluent Cargo’s commitment to data accuracy is evident in their daily schedule updates, ensuring users always have access to the most current information..
Their vast database covering over 650 airlines and 150 shipping lines, provides an unprecedented range of choices for planning and scheduling for customers..
The site claims to update its schedule data daily to ensure they are displaying the most up-to-date information and from my review, I see no reason to doubt this..
Fluent Cargo’s pricing strategy is a thoughtful pricing strategy devised to accommodate a broad range of users – from individuals or small businesses to larger organizations needing more advanced features and higher usage limits.
The free Starter plan, offering basic features suitable for a single user, is an effective strategy to entice users to try out the service without financial commitment.. The Team plan caters to small teams or businesses needing more complex routing and scheduling capabilities, while the Pro+ plan is aimed at larger organizations with substantial logistics operations.
What is interesting to note is that all paid features are currently free for Starter tier users until the Team and Pro+ plan fully launch next quarter, a move no doubt designed to familiarize users with the complete suite of features that Fluent Cargo offers.
The pricing model includes flexibility to upgrade plans mid-cycle with prorated charges, and the ability to cancel subscriptions or revert to a free plan, providing users with reassurance about their commitment..
In the complex world of logistics, Fluent Cargo’s offering seems to come in as a breath of fresh air. It streamlines the process of route planning and shipment scheduling, providing an efficient, data-driven solution that is required in the market today.
The platform is Intuitive, Informative, and Comprehensive. Its accuracy, reliability, and convenience make it an invaluable tool for anyone in the shipping industry looking to save countless hours of pre-shipment research into routes and route planning..
While Fluent Cargo is working towards adding more advanced filtering options and complex connections, the existing platform still offers a comprehensive solution for any logistics professional..
These planned enhancements will only further solidify Fluent Cargo’s position as a leader in the industry.. Their commitment to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction makes them a reliable partner in your logistics planning journey.. Highly recommended..