Choosing the best transportation medium for your cargo can be challenging. This decision can have a profound impact on your business and your customers. Both air freight and sea freight have their advantages and disadvantages and the selection of the best shipping mode requires knowledge of each medium and the corresponding pros and cons. The first instinct of many Logistics solutions and Operations Managers is to compare costs while considering transit time. However, along with these two factors, additional factors such as size, volume and the nature of the shipment should be considered. Leading managers know that a professional freight forwarder in Australia will take all of these factors into consideration and assist you in choosing the best shipping mode based on your requirements.

Read on to learn 4 questions to ask yourself that will assist you to choose the best-suited transportation medium between sea freight and air freight.

1) How fast do you need this freight?

Criticality of the shipment has the biggest impact on your transportation decision. On one side, most critical cargo demands a fast air freight service and will cost significantly more than sea freight. Sea freight services may take longer but will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. These opposing objectives put many Logistics Managers in a dilemma. A quick conversation with a knowledgeable freight forwarder will assist you to make the best choice. A professional freight forwarder, such as BCR, will guide you so that you get the space you need at the time you need it.

2) What is the projected landed cost of the shipment?

Landed cost is another factor which weighs heavily on the minds of Logistics Managers when choosing the best transportation mode for a shipment. Usually, in international shipping, air freight is considered as the most expensive mode and sea freight the cheapest. However, this is not necessarily true. Sporadically, inland transportation, port congestion and port warehousing charges can make sea freight more expensive. Where air freight is considered more economical for light and small shipments, sea freight is more economical for large and heavy shipments. Professional freight forwarders can assist by factoring in all cost elements and projecting a landed cost which can assist in deciding the most appropriate mode of shipping for your cargo.

Learn more on Landed Costs and how to calculate by reading this blog.

3) Does this shipment contain any Dangerous Goods (DGs)?

The use of passenger aircraft makes air freight the most secure transportation medium. To maintain this high level of security, government and airlines have divided goods into two categories. One is dangerous goods (DGs) and another one is non-dangerous goods (non-DGs). Whereas non-DGs are allowed on passenger aircraft, most DGs are strictly prohibited and need to be shipped by sea freight. Some hazardous DGs can still move via air freight but require strict declarations and certificates, such as an MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet), and must be carried by specific airlines. Outsourcing freight forwarding to an IATA accredited freight forwarding company such as BCR will reduce the complexity and simplify your shipments as we will work with you in sourcing the required documentation. This will reduce the chance of a last minute cancellation from the airline.

4) What is the size and volume of the shipment?

Size and volume of shipments are important factors to consider when determining the mode of transportation. Air freight has restrictions to ship limited volume with dimensional constraints and is unable to carry bulky and odd dimensional cargo. On the other hand, sea freight provides flexibility to ship any dimension cargo with unlimited volume capacity. Your freight forwarding company should provide confirmation in advance that your freight can be shipped via air. This will reduce the risk of your shipment being rejected by the airline. Bulky and odd dimensional cargo will need to be shipped via sea in most cases. Ultimately, your freight forwarder is the first point of contact to assist in the determination of shipment mode based on size and volume.

Choosing between air freight and sea freight services depends on your individual circumstances. Making this decision requires wisdom and industry experience. Choosing sea freight services may save money but will delay the shipment by days or weeks which will directly impact how fast you or your customer receives the shipment. Choosing air freight services may deliver the cargo prior to the delivery date but will increase the product cost. By using a holistic approach and considering all the circumstantial factors, a professional freight forwarder can assist and guide you to choose the most appropriate transportation medium for your shipments.

For more than a century, BCR has continued to help small, medium and large businesses achieve an optimum logistics solution with warehousing and transportation, including air freight and sea freight services to and from the major ports including BrisbaneSydneyMelbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle (Perth).