Slow boat from China
July 28, 2011 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I have a a couple questions about your experience with freight forwarders. In particular, shipping containers via ocean from China.

I manufacture and ship goods from China frequently. I'd say about half my shipments are full containers and the other half are LCL (Less than Container Load). These goods are then delivered to warehouses around the US.

I've been using a local freight forwarder in Milwaukee for a couple years and their customer service has been excellent, but there are two things that bug me:

1) They take two days to return shipping quotes to me. I need an all-in price including trucking the items the last leg to the warehouses. Ideally, I'd like to get these quotes back within hours, not days.

2) A lot of times, my goods are finished manufacturing but it takes a week or two waiting for the ship to sail. Is my forwarder using a shipper with relatively fewer boats than other companies? It seems like boats sail every day for Long Beach -- why can't I get my freight on the one leaving soonest? In the end, it seems to take 5-6 weeks for my goods to be delivered.

Anybody have any thoughts? Am I using the slowest company around or are they all like that?
posted by PSB to Work & Money (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The size of the company may be reelvant to their quoting time. Bear in mind that they may also be waiting on quotes from the actual carriers!

As for the second point, I don't know for sure. It strikes me that the size of those containre ships is enormous and could take a long time to load out. Last weekend I was talking about this very thing with family [see below], and they said the newest container ships would carry 4500 full (40-foot) containers, while the largest ships that are capable of passing through the Panama Canal carry more like 4000 full-size containers. Can you imagine how long it takes to fill one of those things? :7)

Non-astroturf note: My dad & brother have a small company doing this very business elsewhere in the Midwest; MeMail me and I will put you in touch with them.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2011

Have you tried a big logistics company like CH Robinson? I know a few friends who work there and I'm always amazed when they talk about how they do things.
posted by mullacc at 9:02 AM on July 28, 2011

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