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Condiciones Logísticas What Are the Differences? FCLvsLCL.

Fecha de registroAUG 03, 2023

What Are the Differences? FCLvsLCL.
As the importance of logistics and global trade increased in the global market, interest in the method of effectively transporting goods is gaining attention. In turn, 2 important terms appeared: Full Container Load (FCL) and Less than Container Load (LCL). Both words refer to the method of transporting goods using containers, and each of them has different characteristics.

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of those two methods and which method is more efficient to select depending on the situation of shippers.
FCL : Full Container Load
Full Container Load (FCL) refers to one full container load. It is a transportation method when using the “entire container on one’s own.” FCL generally uses a 20-foot (FCL 20’) or 40-foot container. One 20-foot container can be loaded with about 20 tons, so it is often used for transporting heavy freight including steel and raw materials.

Since shippers can use the entire container on their own, the risk of losing and damaging cargo decreases, meaning it is very secure and safe. It is possible to predict the transportation time because the freight is loaded solely, and the process for customs clearance is also fast and simple.
FCL, LCL Difference Image
LCL : Less than Container Load
Less than Container Load (LCL) refers to a method of transporting cargo by sharing a part of the container with many shippers. It is favorable for a relatively small amount of shipments or goods with small volumes. It enables a reduction of costs since a shipper only uses the space required for loading cargo and shares the rest with other shippers.

Using LCL is advantageous for goods with a small volume such as light-weighted products and samples. LCL can also be used when transporting small freight to various destinations.

However, it takes a relatively long time for transportation and customs clearance since shippers who are transporting together should cooperate and adjust with one another. Additionally, there is Consol Time, the process of loading shipments of various shippers into the bonded warehouse in a port of loading or discharge. A warehouse cost is incurred because of this, and an excessive warehouse cost may be charged because the cargo-arriving process of each shipper is different. Moreover, there is a risk of collision or chaos since shipments of various shippers are transported together. Therefore, appropriate packaging, labeling, and protective measures are necessary.
Q: Which one is more economical, FCL or LCL? A:It depends on the cargo!
When loading cargo into containers, cargo is measured based on its weight and volume. The unit of measurement for cargo weight is the metric ton (t) and kilogram (kg), and the one for cargo volume is the cubic meter (CBM). 1 CBM refers to a volume where the width, length, and height are 1 m each, and logistics costs are charged based on the CBM.

Generally, the size of a 20-foot container is 5.90 m wide, 2.35 m long, and 2.39 m high. When it is converted to CBM, it is 33 CBM. However, the CBM is calculated as a cube, so it does not match the real size of the cargo to be loaded. One should take the dead space and international regulations into consideration, so generally one can load a maximum of 28 CBM in a 20-foot container, and 58 CBM in a 40-foot FCL container.

When transporting cargo with a small amount or when cargo is less than 15 CBM and is not heavy enough to fully fill a container, it can be transported economically by selecting LCL. However, cargo with more than 15 CBM can fill up more than half of a container, so selecting FCL may be more effective and economical.
Q: What do we need to be aware of during the process of FCL and LCL transportation? A: The loading of cargo!
When selecting FCL, take into consideration the size and weight of cargo to maximize the use of container space and to effectively transport. Carefully check whether the cargo is loaded safely, minimizing empty spaces.

If a container is too small, cargo either cannot be loaded or overloaded. If a container is too big, the space can be wasted.

When assorting and arranging cargo in a container for LCL, beware so that they are safely loaded and do not interfere with one another. It is important to protect them so that they are not damaged. Additionally, since the LCL is a way of transporting cargo of many shippers together, it is important to flexibly respond as there might be an adjustment in transportation schedules.
Q: Which transportation method saves transportation time? A: FCL!
One of the differences between FCL and LCL is whether cargo goes through a bonded warehouse known as CFS, Container Freight Station, during the process of delivery.

The CFS is a facility used for stuffing, devanning, assorting, and storing cargo. It is a place for assorting LCL containers before they are moved to the Container Yard (CY), a bonded area. However, the FCL does not pass this area.

Since FCL uses one whole container, the transportation from the origin to the destination is completed with one container. Therefore, it saves time as work such as combining and separating containers does not exist. Adding to this, it is advantageous for predicting and managing transportation schedules, so it is appropriate when a designated urgent transportation schedule is necessary.
Flow of FCL
On the other hand, LCL is a method of transporting a small amount of cargo or many shippers’ cargo in one container. Therefore, many shippers’ cargo should be adjusted and assorted. This work is done in the CFS, but this may make the transportation schedule relatively complex and influence the departing, arriving, and customs clearance time. The use of CFS may incur additional costs including warehouse costs, so prior confirmation is required.
Flow df LCL
Q: Which transportation method is more useful for e-commerce sellers? A: LCL!
For e-commerce sellers who need cargo with a relatively small volume, LCL may be more appropriate. This is because they can share the container space and LCL enables sending of cargo with volume from 1 CBM to 15 CBM.

In addition, selecting LCL may be more efficient than FCL when warehousing in the Amazon FBA warehouse. When using LCL, cargo can be palletized and labeled from the origin following Amazon FBA policies. However, it is difficult to bring the whole container into the warehouse in the case of FCL because of the policies. Therefore, a procedure is needed in the port of discharge to remove container packaging, labeling, and palletizing.

We have looked at the advantages and disadvantages of FCL and LCL, respectively.

FCL is more appropriate when transporting a massive amount of cargo at once and when one is in need of predicting an accurate transportation schedule. On the other hand, LCL is favorable for small cargo or when one needs to transport cargo to various destinations.

Therefore, decide which transportation method to use by carefully identifying the conditions of shippers such as the amount of cargo, freight type, destination, and transportation schedule. Even if the cargo is small, FCL may be cheaper than LCL if the cargo is over 10 CBM, so we recommend comparing quotes.