Freight Forwarder: What is it?

A freight forwarder is a group or individual that coordinates the domestic leg of an international shipment.

They’re in charge of the following:

  • Coordinate the pick-up of the freight with the cartage agent
  • Take possession of the freight at their warehouse
  • Coordinate the second leg of the shipment with another carrier
  • Make sure the shipment or freight arrives at its final destination

What Happens Next

At this point, a freight forwarder has a few different options.

One of the options them Intermodal. With this option, they haul the freight or have the freight hauled over to a station, by or via another cartage agent.

In the U.S., another option is using air as a method for getting that land-based freight delivered. This is one that doesn’t come immediately to mind for most folks.

freight forwarder

They can also use less than truckload (LTL) or truck-loaders. There are a couple of reasons for freight forwarders to use LTL versus the cartage agent. The first being that a lot of cartage agents are short-haul (under 50 miles). Although, some will be able to deliver further than that. However, it’ll be beneficial having that one carrier.

A freight forwarder has a lot of different options. But, their main responsibility is to coordinate the delivery of that freight.

Possible Issues

If a freight forwarder uses the LTL option, it may be a more cost-effective method for having that freight delivered. But, there is a possibility of a slight delay with that delivery. Now you’re relying on the carrier’s capacity and that extra transit time for it to get to its destination. Whereas with a cartage agent, yours is the only freight moving on the truck. You may also have a little bit more customer service related to that movement. Even so, LTL and truckload are great options for freight forwarders.

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