Shipping Time-Sensitive Cargo: Things to Know

Delivering heavy machinery or essential spare parts on time for the specialized industries is no easy task. A small delay can have serious consequences for oil and gas or mining industries – but this can be avoided with the right air cargo charter company.

To understand how truly important reliable on-time transportation and delivery of such items is, we need to look closer at the different ways heavy machinery, as well as spare parts, are shipped.

Ways to ship cargo

International heavy and outsized machinery transportation now has become easier than it’s been several decades ago. Yet, it’s still not as simple as simply pressing the ‘send’ button and waving your cargo off until it reaches its intended destination. The four main ways cargo can be transported are by sea, rail, lorry, or air.

  • By sea – maritime shipping is considered to be the cornerstone of international shipping, accounting for 90% of all international goods transportation. While this method of shipping can take on heavy and outsized goods and is less costly, it’s not an ideal choice if you need a speedy delivery of machinery or parts. The transit can take anywhere between 20-45 days or even more.
  • By rail – the train is quite a reliable way of transporting goods, including heavy machinery, as it’s affected less by delays that occur on road networks and weather conditions. However, compared to other means of transportation it is the slowest option, and shipping internationally requires multiple transfers throughout the item’s journey.
  • By road – total road freight transport accounted for almost 77.5% of the total inland freight transport in Europe. Moving goods by lorry offer a nice versatility as they can offer bulk, full load, or shared load options, which reflect on the costs as well. But as a single mode of transportation for large machinery or spare parts that have to arrive quickly, it’s not the best choice as well.
  • By air – air freight, while last on the list, is seen as the most reliable and fastest way of shipping goods. Due to frequent flight schedules and the ability to get a charter flight ready for emergency deliveries that industries like oil and gas or mining require. Air transportation is also open to all regions and has very strong security as airport regulations are strictly enforced throughout.

Determining freight class

Looking at the four modes of freight transportation, the best bet for moving big machinery or important spare parts to a location seems to be air freight. But before you load your draglines and articulated trucks onto a cargo aircraft, you need to ascertain what freight class your heavy machinery falls into.

The tricky part of it is that despite the Standard International Trade Classification (or SITC), each region has additional specific classifications they use, that you might want to consider when thinking about transporting your machinery or parts quickly to oil, gas, or mining sites both inland or more globally.

But first, let’s take a look at the SITC itself.

Standard International Trade Classification (SITC)

Managed by the United Nations, SITC is applied together with the subheadings of a Harmonised System. Goods are often classified in one- or two-digit SITC categories. The latest SITC revision approved by the UN in 2006, contains 2,970 basing headings, which are further divided into 262 groups, 67 divisions, and 10 sections. For example, machinery would fall under Section 7 – Machinery and transport equipment.

Combined Nomenclature (CN)

Europe bases its freight classification on Combined Nomenclature, in addition to SITC. The Combined Nomenclature corresponds to the Harmonised System and a further breakdown at the eight-digit level defined to meet the European Union’s needs. The CN includes approximately 9,400 eight-digit codes and is revised annually, to ensure that it’s up to date with technology or patterns of international trade in goods.

National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC)

The United States and Canada base their freight classification on the National Motor Freight Association-issued parameters. NMFC depends on the level of “transportability” of the merchandise, which is determined by the following characteristics:

  • Density – equipment’s weight in relation to its size.
  • Storability – how easily the equipment can be stored.
  • Handling – how easily the equipment can be handled.
  • Liability – how fragile is the equipment.

There are 18 different classes. Ranging from the number 50 (the lowest) to class 500, (the highest), it identifies the costs of transportation – the lower the class, the lower the cost of transportation. In turn, the higher the class, the higher the cost of transportation.

Next steps for shipping cargo

Air cargo transports nearly £5 trillion worth of goods annually, accounting for approximately 35% of world trade by value. As mentioned previously, choosing air transport for certain freight over other modes comes down to two main factors: the value of the commodities and the speed with which they must be transported. Urgent materials and high-value commodities for heavy industries like oil and gas or mining are typically shipped by air cargo.

Providing the right information

Gathering accurate information about your cargo shipping, especially if it’s urgent equipment, will save you time, give exact costs and allow you to choose the best fitting air freight carrier for the job. The correct details can help you avoid any charges or fees that might come up because of hasty guesses – providing inaccurate measurements might have your freight re-weighted and re-classified, adding unnecessary paperwork, surcharges, and additional precious time.

Getting the right transportation partner

Very often companies try to cut corners and save on costs when it comes to such services as international freight transportation. But in most cases, the costs reflect the quality of service – which means higher chance of delays or pricing.

Finding the right transportation partner, like an air cargo charter hire company with a proven track record, is key in these urgent moments. A long-established air cargo company has the right expertise in handling outsized cargo like heavy machinery or urgent transportation of spare parts. The people working on such projects have the right knowledge taking care of specialized cargo. They can ensure that any damage to the cargo is avoided, and the item will reach its destination as intended.

Seasoned air cargo charter companies can also guarantee on-time delivery of freight – and that is a key moment for any specialized industry. In oil and gas or mining industries, time equals money. If a certain oil rig or mining location is in dire need of a new part for their equipment or additional heavy machinery, timely transportation and delivery of those items are essential. Each minute delay means lost production capacity and lost money for the companies. A reputable air cargo transportation company is the best choice to avoid such losses.

Along with that, such cargo charter companies have a reliable network of partners, ensuring well-rounded air transportation solutions.

Air Cargo charters – the best solution for urgent transportation

If you’re in need of urgent transportation of specialized machinery or spare details, an air cargo charter – and a reliable company that deals with such emergencies – is definitely your best bet. When time is of the utmost essence and speed is everything, air cargo beats other modes of freight transportation by a mile.

Having a reputable air cargo partner only adds to the security of your time-sensitive freight. Long-established companies not only take care of proper documentation, but also guarantee safe loading, and have well-versed staff to handle the outsized and urgent freight.

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