We are seeing more major ocean freight consolidators in the U.S. market experience no shortage in demand for expedited less-than-container load (LCL) service requests from freight forwarders during the ongoing global pandemic. 

These services promise roughly 12-day transit between China to Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California, compared to the most standard, month-long ocean transits for eastbound, trans-PAcific container traffic. 

Although expedited LCL services are three to four times more expensive per cubic meter of freight than traditional LCL, they offer airfreight shippers that are currently pinched for capacity and seeing higher-than-normal air transport rates due to the coronavirus pandemic a rate that is two-thirds of three-fourths cheaper, if extra days can be allowed in the transit.

“Our premium APLL Ocean Guaranteed Service is an excellent alternative to the slower traditional LCL and we provide a money-back guarantee for peace of mind,” says Tom Cremer Manager Ocean LCL Product APL Logistics.

“We have seen a significant uptick in volume on these services in recent months,” Niels Nielsen, executive vice president in the U.S. for Hoboken, New Jersey-based Shipco Transport, told American Shipper. “Yes, there’s a premium for utilizing such carriers, but with reduced transit times and faster availability at the U.S. terminal — and especially when compared to airfreight alternatives — that premium can be justified.”

Starting in early March, trans-Pacific ocean carriers calling U.S. West Coast ports began canceling sailings to offset the dramatic drop in import containers caused by a sudden steep decline in consumer spending and manufacturing resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some trans-Pacific liner carriers, especially those U.S.-flag and foreign-flag operators independent of the major alliances, have stuck to their sailing schedules between China and the West Coast, even during the worst of the pandemic. These include U.S.-flag carriers Matson Navigation and APL, and foreign flag operators ZIM and Evergreen.

In March, ECU Worldwide, a large ocean freight consolidator, started an LCL express service, XLERATE, in partnership with Matson from Shanghai and Ningbo to more than a dozen container freight stations (CFS) throughout the U.S. via the Port of Los Angeles.

Last month, the consolidator further expanded this expedited LCL service by using ZIM’s “ZEX” vessel service, which operates between China’s Shenzhen and Guangzhou ports and Los Angeles.

Similar to several years ago when we saw Hamburg-Süd add a Trans-Pacific reverse route and customers using Freightgate’s powerful dynamic rating and routing engine found new routing choices saving $1000/container, that also was 4 days faster. Most contract management and procurement tools still today use simple point-to-point rates with pre-determined routings — precluding any smart optimization leveraging different load and discharge ports.  Carbon Neutrality and sustainability are becoming more important and we are proud to have supported carbon emission-aware routing choices for over a decade. 

If you are interested in demoing the powerful route optimization tool at the core for the Freightgate logisticsCloud get in touch with us here and discover more intelligent decision-making for your global supply chain.