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FCL Cargo
15 Jun

A Complete Guide to FCL Shipping

Sea Freight

What Is FCL Shipping?

Suppose you are going to trade internationally. Whether it’s for export or import, you have to determine how the shipping will be done, search for a reliable carrier, and optimize shipping cost.

FCL stands for a full container load. FCL describes sea transportation for cargo loads that will fill 20 “or 40” shipping containers at maximum capacity.

Unlike LCL (less than container load), FCL shipments use the entire container, meaning there is only one firm’s load in the container. FCL means that the container has been loaded and sealed at the exporter’s premises and will be unloaded upon arrival at the importer’s premises.

In this way, the container’s cargo is not exposed to an intermediate transportation process or risky operations such as unloading and loading the cargo into another vehicle. It’s door-to-door transportation, so there is no possibility of decrement or loss of the container cargo.

Maritime shipping is the most popular method of international transportation. Road transport is both expensive and not an option for overseas countries. As another option, air cargo transportation is costly and not suitable for loads that exceed individual weights and dimensions.

Container transport, especially FCL, is much more economical and practical for transporting large quantities of goods. The shipping of merchandise is the most popular method of moving household items abroad is FCL shipping.

Ocean Freight

How To Determine FCL Capacity

First, decide whether your cargo is suitable for FCL shipment. At this stage, you must determine the maximum load you can carry in an FCL transport. The ratio between the container capacity and the dimensions of your load, that is, the container’s loading capacity, depends on the pallet size you use and the stacking of the pallets.

For example, a 20″ container volumetric capacity is 33 cbm (355.21 sq ft), but the number of pallets or parcels of your load will be less due to the loss of space when the pallets or boxes are loaded side by side and one on top of the other.

CBM figures for the most commonly used Dry Containers:

  • 20” container volumetric capacity 33 cbm (355.21 sq ft)
  • 40” container volumetric capacity 66 cbm (710.42 sq ft)
  • 40” HQ container volumetric capacity 76 cbm (818.05 sq ft)
  • 45” HQ container volumetric capacity 86 cbm (925.69 sq ft)

Your total load may be too low to require an FCL. Your load total may be slightly higher than a 400 “container, so you may need to drop freight or choose 40” HQ. So consult your carrier before choosing a container.

Container Shipping

The total weight of your cargo is another factor to consider when calculating the container capacity. Although a small but heavy material fills half the container, If the container’s maximum weight-bearing capacity has been reached, no further loading can be done.

Container maximum carrying capacities may vary depending on the country to which the cargo will be exported. For example, the shipping company allows you to load 25 tons, while the container load limit for inland shipping in the export country maybe 22 tons. So don’t forget to ask your carrier for such information.

When loading, you need to consider the cargo’s capacity that will fit in the container and the dimensions, interior dimensions, and door dimensions of the container. For example, the height of a 20″ and 40″ container is 7’8 “(2.34m), but the height at the door, i.e., the entrance where the load will be loaded, is 7’5’½” (2.27m). Therefore, a 7’6″ (2.31m) high pallet cannot load the container vertically.

Advantages Of FCL Shipment

In FCL shipments, the entire load in the container belongs to a single company. Therefore, since there is no need for additional loading or unloading in a warehouse or bonded area, the operation process quickly occurs. The process is shorter than for LCL loading.

The container is loaded at the exporter’s facility, and its covers are not opened until it reaches the importer’s address. It does not require intermediate loading or unloading. This way, your cargo is less likely to be damaged, and there is no risk of getting lost.

Unit shipping cost is less in FCL transport. Although the full container price seems to be higher than LCL loading, FCL is always more economical than the total amount of cargo carried and the total cost.

For each FCL freight, you can charge more carriers to each destination. For a carrier to quote LCL, it must be able to find customers with LCL freight like you, who will load to that destination, and be able to groupage, that is, fill the container with partial loads. This means that if you have an LCL load, you will have fewer options.

FCL Cargo

What Is The FCL Shipping Cost?

If you are loading FCL, you will pay a fixed fee for the entire container, regardless of the container’s amount of freight. If the load is to fill a 20 “or 40” container, the FCL unit cost will be lower.

Our advice to importers is to investigate the shipping options at their side and ask the CIF price of the exporter company. It is better to compare FOB and CIF prices. The exporter company may get a better offer than yours.