You order a camera lens from China and it arrives at your home in New York, in less than a month. How does this happen?
Trade networks today have the capability of transporting goods around the world at rapid speeds. What makes this possible are logistics carriers and carrier networks.
What are Logistics Carriers?
For a camera lens to make its way from China to the United States there needs to be someone handling its transport. A company or person who is in charge of this transportation is a logistics carrier.
A logistics carrier will then be legally responsible for carrying the camera lens during the shipping process.
These carriers are also called freight carriers and can provide multi-modal transport services to get goods delivered faster. This means they can transport by land, air, and sea to reduce costs or transport special freight.
Logistics carriers work in two distinct ways. Some logistics carriers are common carriers or transporters for any individual entity or company.
Other logistics carriers are contract carriers. These companies and transport providers are bound to carry goods for certain shippers across a set time period. Contract carriers draw up agreements with particular companies and in doing so, cannot carry goods for other businesses.
Chances are that your camera lens made its way to you via a contract, common carrier, or even both depending on the shipping contracts and arrangements of the supplier.
How do Carrier Networks Work?
Logistics carriers work through a complex network to get products like camera lenses from their point of origin to their destination. It all starts when a business or shipper tenders an order with a 3PL freight broker. The shipper will need to mention all the details about the order shipments. These shipments can be scheduled on a regular basis or in special circumstances.
After an order is tendered, the 3PL company then schedules and organizes delivery information in their transportation management system. The 3PL freight broker will engage with a large network of logistics carriers to get these orders delivered in a certain timeline.
The carriers will need to work with insurance, hazard risks, handling requirements, and time management for all the orders. The order can only be dispatched once all these details have been checked.
The dispatch comes after these checks and the order is handed over to the carrier. The packages will then be loaded onto freight trailers or transport vehicles. The carrier will need to sign a shipper’s Bill of Lading (BOL). They assume responsibility for the package and are fully liable for problems in the delivery.
At this point, the carrier will then be in transit. In a well-connected carrier network, the freight broker will be in touch with the carrier throughout the journey.
After this comes the unloading, when the consignee will receive the package and sign the Bill of Lading. The 3PL will then receive Proof of Delivery documents and invoices for billing.
Advantages of a Carrier Network
Now that you have a grasp of how carrier networks work, you might be wondering—should all businesses join a carrier network?
The short answer is: yes. They should join a carrier network with a 3PL and expert carrier services. Here’s why:
- Issues are Easily Managed
There are a lot of things that can go wrong during shipments. The weather can be volatile, the trucks can breakdown in the middle of their routes, or unanticipated checkpoints or delays could pop up at the last minute. If you have a business and join a carrier network, these will not be your headaches. A 3PL will take care of all the scheduling, planning, and re-booking in case anything goes wrong.
- Communication is Efficient
A 3PL provider will update progress and track communication between the carriers, suppliers, and customers to make the delivery and transport more efficient.
The carriers connected to the 3PLs will keep in touch via phone or GPS to track progress along the way. If they encounter a problem on the road, the 3PL will know immediately and send help for the current carrier or replace it with another one.
A 3PL, a carrier, and a supplier, all collaborate to get your camera lens from China to the United States. Without them, your camera lens would still be at the factory. Logistics Carrier Networks are then essential for every good you consume.