What is a freight company?

Posted by Temando on Thursday, October 03, 2013

So what is a freight company exactly? A freight company is a company that specialises in one of the areas involved with the moving (or ‘forwarding’) of freight, or cargo, from one place to another. These companies are divided into several variant sections. There are international freight forwarders who ship goods internationally from country to country and domestic freight forwarders who ship goods within a single country.

There are a number of different methods of shipping goods; either by air, road, sea, or rail. Obviously there are different costs and factors involved with all of these means of transportation and it is up to the freight company to inform the customer. Some companies offer multi-modal solutions, which means that they offer more than one service, in many cases air and sea and in other cases air, sea, and road. The most common multi-modal way of shipping is referred to as inter-modal meaning truck pickup to rail to truck delivery. The main reason for multi-modal shipping is that generally that some forms of transport, namely shipping, rail and air, are unable to do exact pickup and delivery while other means of transport, such as road, is unable to cross the distances that shipping, rail and air can. Multi-modality is a vital component of modern freight. Another influence is cost, often it is cheaper to use multi-modal means of transport. A third factor is the nature of the item being shipped. If it is a time critical item then using a faster means of shipping, such as air, over other slower but cheaper means, such as sea, are preferable. 

In other words, the shipping method is by evaluating three factors: time, cost, and product characteristics. While shipping by sea could take longer than shipping by air, the latter is generally more expensive. Shipping by rail could also be complemented by piggybacking the freight onto a truck so it can be delivered to the receiver.

There are literally thousands of different freight companies in business worldwide, many of which are members of certain organisations. Such organisations include the IATA (International Air Transport Association), TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) the BIFA (British International Freight Association), or the FTA (Freight Transport Association) and various or other regional organisations. It pays to choose a freight company that belongs to one or all of these organisations as this is the best way of ensuring that they will deliver a certain standard or service. 

If you want to get the best results from your freighting experience then you need to find a reputable company and you need to consider the modality of your shipping. Obviously if your item needs to be somewhere fast then you will need to consider air freight as it is the quickest over long distances but if you are more concerned about cost then you are more likely to choose a cheaper alternative such as sea freight.