Logistics unlocked

Cargocall Managing Director, Gary Clere, offers his insight into the logistics and freight forwarding industries.

For many centuries, the world has depended on international trade where goods are bought and sold between traders and companies in different corners of the globe. Once the deal is done, then begins the process of a logistics operation, moving the product from one country to another. In the past that process only ever involved a ship with sails. Thankfully, we have moved on from such times, and in today’s world we use diesel ships, aircraft and trucks to move goods around the world. Nevertheless, someone has to organise it all and so we introduce to you the logistics company, otherwise known as a freight forwarder.

Q: What exactly is a freight forwarder and what do they do?
A: Freight forwarders are companies that take all the complex pieces of the logistics jigsaw and piece them together. For example, when a product is sold and ready to be shipped to Saudi Arabia, the freight forwarder will determine how best to move the item to meet delivery deadlines. If it is needed urgently then air freight will be the only solution. The freight forwarder will arrange a booking with an airline to move the product to Saudi Arabia and also prepare and supply much of the export documentation required for its journey. Collection from the UK exporter's warehouse is arranged with delivery to the airline and then, in many cases, the freight forwarder will also arrange customs clearance and final delivery to the buyer in Saudi Arabia. This part of the jigsaw is commonly handled by an overseas agent on behalf of the freight forwarder in the UK. This provides a complete 'door-to-door' service to the UK exporter.

Q: Does this mean freight forwarding franchises require a lot of capital and equipment?
A: No. Freight forwarders do not need to own or operate vehicles or warehouses, if they choose not to. All of these services can be managed through contracted third parties. The key to delivering a great logistics service actually comes down to conscientious, well-organised people, who communicate effectively to ensure the job gets done on time and within budget.

Q: What kinds of companies use the services of freight forwarders?
A: Companies, both large and small, use freight forwarders. Any organisation that exports or imports its products will engage with a freight forwarder to get those products from A to B. Globalisation, along with easier communication links, has seen a huge growth in the number of UK companies that export and import, all resulting in increased demand for the services of freight forwarders, like Cargocall.

Q: Is a freight forwarder the same as a parcel delivery or courier company?
A: No, they are very different. Parcel delivery companies are often limited in what they can manage and transport, whereas freight forwarders, like Cargocall, provide a much wider service range. This means transport services are available for any type of shipment, from the very small to the very large. For example, one of our own unusual shipments was to transport an entire theme park ride from Italy to the UK, something that could never be handled by a parcel delivery company!

Q: What do you like most about the logistics industry?
A: The variety in the job, along with the challenges one faces in finding solutions for more complex transport requirements. Freight forwarders deal with a wide variety of companies, all with different needs and products. You get great job satisfaction in seeing a project through from beginning to end and you make great friends out of your customers, as you often work together as partners in the shipping process. As a business, it is something I have always hailed as a healthy one to be in, because the need is always there for transporting goods and it delivers repeat business from customers who regularly buy and sell products and raw materials in overseas markets.