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From the stages of the shipping cycle to know how to identify a good logistics company from another, this post will cover all the necessary information you need to know when dealing with cargo shipping companies.

The Shipping Cycle

A shipping cycle is an economic cycle intended to correct markets when supply and demand are out of balance. It is a stage cycle based on customer demand:

Stage 1: Trough

In economic terms, ‘trough’ is used to refer to a stage in the business cycle where activities and/or prices plummet just before rising again. In the shipping cycle, the trough is considered to be the stage at which there is an ‘excess’ capacity. The freight costs plummet, and shipping companies experience negative cash flow. There are two other phenomena that characterizes this stage: the accumulation of ships at trading ports and the slowing down of shipments.

Stage 2: Recovery

In the second stage of the shipping cycle, marks the end of the trough and start of business turning around. The decrease in prices spur an increase in demand leading both supply and demand to move toward equilibrium.

Stage 3: Expansion

As the demand increases, freight charges gradually begin to increase as well, and shipping containers begin to move out of the trading ports.

Stage 4: Peak

At this stage, the shipping freight rates reach their maximum level of growth and hits a plateau. At this stage, the cycle will start to reverse. Even though the levels of supply and demand are going to be almost completely equal, the tension between the two will be more volatile. This increases the chances of the peak of reversing at any moment.

Stage 5: Collapse

At this stage, which represents the end of the cycle, supply exceeds demand and lead to sales and rates to decrease. While the cash flow will not immediately experience a decline, there will be slow down in terms of operation.

How Container Ships Work?

Companies hire shipping companies to ship their products. These companies send their products to these shipping companies who then load the containers. Once loaded, the shipping companies move the containers to the port, through a process called ‘drayage’. Transporting a container away from the port is also referred to as ‘drayage’.

The containers are then kept at the port in container stacks. Once the designated ship arrives, a special chassis and a bomb cart is used to transport the container to the ship. None of the containers are placed in a haphazard manner. Because of the different protocols in place, the placement of containers will have to be done carefully. For example, the container could be placed in order of weight. The container might also have to be secured either above deck or below the hatch.

What Makes a Logistics Company Reliable?

There are few things you can look out for to ensure you are able to separate a good logistics company from a bad one. The most common way to tell them apart is by looking at their contacts and knowledge.

Unlike individual companies, cargo shipping companies have been in the field for a very long time. The level of knowledge and expertise they have is unsurpassed and usually towers over the in-house logistics department in terms of efficiency. Moving large quantities of goods around the world on a daily basis ensures that they know the guidelines of almost every port out there, which is something you can’t expect a newcomer to know.

They must also have full mastery over the types of containers they can use to move the shipment.  While the most common containers are 20-foot dry containers and 40-foot dry containers, there are also other types of containers on the market. The other container storage units include:

  • Refrigerated container

Refrigerated ISO containers are containers where the temperature is carefully regulated and maintained at a low level.

  • Thermal container

Thermal containers, also known as insulated containers, are the opposite of refrigerated containers. While the temperature is also carefully regulated, the temperature is controlled to ensure that it stays high, not low. 

  • Flat rack container

Flat rack containers have collapsible sides.

  • Open top container

Open top containers have convertible tops that can be completely removed.

  • Tunnel container

Tunnel containers have doors on both ends of the container.

  • Open side storage containers

These are containers that can be opened on wider sides.

  • Drums

Drum containers are circular shipping containers made from steel, lightweight metals or hard plastic.

Once you’ve established that the shipping company understands all this, you then want to make sure that they can also get your goods in and out of ports in a timely manner. With all the complex procedures that have to be followed, you want to find a company that is renowned for delivering excellent quality work.

Types of Refrigerated Containers

Before looking for the perfect refrigerated container, you need to have a basic knowledge of the types of containers that exist and their respective specifications. There are several types of refrigerated shipping containers available on the market. The type of container you lease will always depend on the cargo these containers will have to carry.

Below is a list of the three types of refrigerated shipping containers you can rent (reefer container is short for refrigerated containers):

  1. The Closed Reefer Container
    Closed reefers are conventional containers that come in one-piece. Closed reefers have an integral front wall, an all-electric automatic cooling unit and an all-electric automatic heating unit for sea-going containers.
  2. The Modified or Controlled Atmosphere (MA/CA) Reefer Containers
    The MA reefer containers are insulated shipping containers that can maintain a constant atmosphere in the container. It does this by constantly replacing consumed oxygen through an air exchange system. This keeps an ideal atmosphere in equilibrium with the product’s deterioration rate.
  3. Automatic Fresh Air Management Containers
    Automatic fresh air management containers, most commonly known by its acronym (AFAM), are reefer containers that use advanced technology to regulate the air combination in the container. This is done automatically and involves adjusting the scale of fresh air exchange. It operates similarly to the CA refrigerated container but differs from it when it comes to the controls. In the AFAM container, the controls can be adjusted to influence and extend the shelf lives of the cargo they carry.

Know Your Cargo

Since maintaining the freshness of the products is of utmost importance during shipping, you must first gain an in-depth knowledge of the products you are shipping and the conditions under which these need to be shipped.

You must also know the respiration rates of your cargo to ensure that they are still fresh upon arrival. Fruits and vegetables do not have the same respiration rates, for example.

1.Chilled cargo

Chilled cargo is all commodities that need to be shipped above product freezing temperatures and includes fresh fruit, juices, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood. These must generally be transported at a 0.5oC range.

2.Frozen cargo

Frozen cargo items include frozen seafood, meats, poultry, prepared foods, concentrates, fruits, vegetables, and ice-cream.

3.Special and miscellaneous cargo

The following are classified as miscellaneous cargo and are not treated the same way as perishables cargo are. These include batteries, photographic film, photographic materials, chemical products, biological products, pharmaceuticals and tobacco products.

Criteria the Containers Have to Meet

One type of container is not necessarily better than the others. They are all used for importing, exporting and storing items. The types of containers you lease will depend on your requirements. When choosing a container for rent, there are several factors you need to take into consideration to ensure that you get the appropriate storage container.

When looking for the best-refrigerated container hire for your utility, you must keep the below factors in mind:

1.Security is essential

If you are using the sea-route for shipment, you need to account for additional factors such as harsh weather conditions, natural disasters, and vandalism. To keep your goods safe, remember to check that the containers are in good condition and remember to check the insurance. These two elements are of utmost importance to keep your goods safe.

2.Access to the container is important

You can’t choose a container without looking at the size of its entrance and the number of entrances it has. This is an essential detail as you may need to access the container from two different entrances, for example. When you are going through the selection of containers the supplier has, you can ask them about the options they offer in this regard.

3.Size is a key element in choosing a container

You cannot choose a container without first assessing the contents you plan on shipping. The size, amount and weight of the goods you are shipping will dictate the size of the container you need to get. Remember that the weight of the contents should be in alignment with the requirements of the ship or plane.

4.The durability of the items being shipped

In order to get the best storage container, you need to know the types of products you plan on storing and shipping. Which is why we mentioned above that it is essential for you to know your cargo. You can’t ship electronic goods in plastic containers for example. Generally, you will ship these kinds of goods in metal containers. Certain food items, on the other hand, can be sent in plastic containers.

5.Additional options are equally as important

You can choose the best container out there, one that is secure, accessible and durable yet run into major obstacles if you don’t know the regulatory requirements of the country you are shipping to and from. This is the best way to ensure that the entire shipping process goes smoothly.

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