Logistic services

What’s the difference between FCL and LCL?

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The Less than Container Load (LCL) and Full Container Load (FLC) systems are the two most widely used forms in logistics for handling and use of space in cargo containers for international transport. Here you will know the differences between FCL and LCL.
Companies that want to import to Paraguay by sea can choose any of these methods, considering the advantages and disadvantages that each one has.

In fact, there are differences between FCL and LCL that must be taken into account when contracting containers to import to Paraguay , in order to choose the system that really fits the needs of each company.

You also know the advantages of using maritime transport 

The simplest way to know which method is appropriate when importing to Paraguay begins by understanding the differences between FCL and LCL and what each one is used for.

What is the FCL system?

In the Full Container Load (FCL) system, the importer pays the entire cost of a container to carry his goods.

This container can be of any size and the importer will pay one hundred percent of the cost, even if the cargo does not occupy the full capacity of the container.

A very frequent reason for hiring full load containers is to guarantee the protection of a specific load.

This is because FCL containers are sealed by the supplier of the merchandise and will not be opened until delivery to the importer.

In this type of cargo, the responsibility of the person in charge of the transport operation is limited only to receiving the container and taking it to its destination.

What is the LCL system?

diferencias entre FCL y LCL

Differences between FCL and LCL in shipping

In the Less than Container Load (LCL) system, only a part of the storage capacity of a container is contracted, while the rest will be occupied by merchandise from other companies.

It is often used by groups of importers who need to move a small volume of cargo and are unwilling or unwilling to pay for a full container on their own.

The cargo is consolidated at the port of origin and generally the container will be delivered to the same final destination, where it will be deconsolidated.

But you can also go a longer way to pick up and deliver partial loads from other importers.

In general, its great advantage is the reduction of shipping costs for participating companies.

How to decide which system to use?

When talking about differences between FCL and LCL the principle of savings prevails, which is very important in international logistics.

However, it is also necessary to take into account the risks of contracting FCL or LCL to avoid bureaucratic and other problems and unforeseen events.

A key point is that at the LCL it is vital to hire a freight forwarder to be in charge of coordinating the receipt of each merchandise and its location within the container for its subsequent transportation.

On the other hand, in the FCL the process of preparing the load and the respective documentation is much faster.

Furthermore, logistics is less complicated since the container will leave point A towards point B and only for greater reasons could it be diverted from its scheduled route or held at customs.

When should you contract containers under FCL modality?

As mentioned before, many importers contract containers under the FCL modality when they want to move delicate cargo .

For reference, this method is used with loads from 15 cubic meters onwards, to justify the expense.

This system offers great security since the container is sealed at the port of shipment and will not be opened until it reaches its destination.

What does the LCL system consist of?

The LCL (Less than Container Load) system refers to the method of contracting only a part of the total load capacity of a container.

This is usually done, for example, when a load destined for Paraguay is insufficient to fill an entire container.

In this case, it is usual to share the container between several importers, each of which has a small volume of merchandise to bring to the country.

Before proceeding to load these LCL containers, the merchandise of the different importers is consolidated or grouped.

For this reason they are also called “groupage containers”.

However, the task of gathering the cargo, preparing it and coordinating its transportation complicates logistics more than with the FCL system.

What are the advantages of the LCL system?

In international logistics, reducing costs is vital , especially for small entrepreneurs who are starting their import project.

In this case, the LCL system offers great advantages for those who do not need to move a large quantity of merchandise at the same time, or cannot pay for it.

The LCL system allows savings through shared expenses in freight, transportation and insurance, which benefits all who participate.

In general, the process of filling and dispatching an LCL container can take 5 to 10 days.

Disadvantages of the LCL system

Although the LCL system allows the container to be filled relatively quickly, there may also be delays while all documentation is collected from each importer.

Also, there is a risk of further delays if the destination of the cargo is a secondary port.

Added to this is the possibility that the container will be temporarily held at customs, due to some problem or additional requirement with part of the cargo.

Added to this are additional delays in the dispatch of the consolidated cargo if the documentation of one of the importers has errors.

Considerations when hiring LCL

It is important to choose a cargo agent who has good references in handling LCL cargo or groupage both by land and by sea.

This agent will be in charge of assembling the cargo and correctly combining the different types of merchandise.

But above all, it will be responsible for any damage that may occur.

In addition, some types of merchandise may require additional documents and permits.

Extra permits may also be required for cargo from certain countries.

It is also important to take care of the packaging or packaging. A poorly packed merchandise can be damaged or cause damage to another part of the cargo in transport.

LCL charge and shared responsibility

In an LCL groupage cargo shipment, the responsibility for any legal or administrative situation is shared by all those involved in filling the container.

This means that if any of the goods placed in the container has a customs problem, the others could also be held until everything is resolved.

This shared responsibility also influences transport times, as is the case with containers that must follow a specific route to collect new merchandise.

The same situation is repeated when delivering loads to different destinations. Every little delay in each stage of the journey increases the delivery time of the rest of the merchandise.

Find the best advice for your FCL or LCL cargo in Paraguay

The decision on the type of container to choose will depend on your economic possibility and the volume of cargo you want to import to Paraguay..

However, it is advisable to have the advice of a good customs agent. This server guides you on the most convenient method for your load and the procedures and costs of each one.

Alfa Trading is a Paraguayan company with more than 28 years of experience in cargo transportation and international logistics.

En Alfa Trading We help you throughout the process of sending and receiving international cargo from the supplier to the final destination.

And above all, our experienced team can advise you on each procedure, requirement and best transportation system, so that you can use for your import and export of international cargo.