What is a LCL?

What is a LCL?
March 20, 2020 Aldo Flores
LCL shipping containers loaded onto trucks

Understanding the Ins and Outs of LCL Transport

LCL transport—which stands for “Less than Container Load”—is the ideal shipping method for a load that won’t fill a full container. Instead, your cargo will join other shipments on ocean freight. It’s another form of ocean transport that can save you money when you don’t have enough items or merchandise to fill up an entire container. Rather than paying extra for an additional full container that you won’t use, you can opt for an LCL container and share space with another exporter or importer.

FCL vs. LCL

an open LCL container

The ocean freight industry has its own language. We might say that you should ship your cargo in an FCL, or Full Container Load. That’s the right choice for large shipments wherein your cargo will easily fill a container. When you don’t quite have enough items to safely load into a shipping container, we might suggest LCL transport.

What LCL Entails

Ocean transport is always organized. Choosing to ship your cargo in an LCL container doesn’t mean that your items will be mixed in with anyone else’s. The same protocols apply regarding packaging, filing, and invoicing.

Also known as groupage, LCL freight transportation simply involves grouping several different shipments in the same container, i.e., other shipments that can’t fill a whole container, either. A full container is safer than a partially full one. The cargo is less likely to move around in an expertly packed container, minimizing the risk of damages.

When to Choose LCL Transport

shipping containers on a docked cargo ship

Sometimes, LCL shipping can be the cheaper option. Is the volume of your container less than 13 cubic meters? If so, then transport your cargo in an LCL load via sea transport.

Last-minute situations happen in spite of our best efforts. That’s one time when using an LCL container has an advantage. It’s especially helpful if you have to book a last-minute freight shipment at a peak time. You’ll have an easier time finding a spot for your cargo in a partially full container.

Occasionally, you wind up with a shipment that’s too large for a single container but not quite large enough to fill two containers. LCL transport makes sense then, as well. You can split your shipments using one FCL and one LCL.

As we said, LCL transport is often less expensive. Airfreight is the fastest shipping method, but as long as you don’t have an urgent deadline, you can ship your cargo via ocean freight in a shared container to save money.

What’s the right shipping option for you? It all depends on how much you need to ship. Ask about the benefits of LCL transport for your cargo shipment. Call us today or visit our website to request a quote for your shipment.

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