There are various reasons why contractors import certain materials in the construction industry. One justification is that some building materials are not found locally; therefore, the only way is to source from a foreign supplier in such cases. Another reason is that overseas suppliers might offer competitive prices per unit when compared to local suppliers. Whatever the reason, you need to choose a mode of transport that best suits your needs. Since most construction materials are bulky, maritime transport is arguably the best mode of transportation. Shipping is cheaper than air transport and also suitable for goods with long lead times. Before you go ahead with the importation process, however, you have to choose the right shipping carrier. This article highlights factors to consider when selecting a shipping carrier.
Type of Cargo — Different shipping carriers specialize in different cargo types; therefore, blindly selecting a transporter that does not handle construction materials is a waste of time. For example, a shipping carrier that moves military equipment will not carry anything other than military cargo. Similarly, a carrier that specializes in transporting live zoo animals is not interested in transporting construction material. As such, before hiring a maritime carrier, ensure that you research the area of specialization and choose a carrier that deals in your type of cargo.
Port of Destination Clearing Requirements — Whenever a carrier docks at any given port, free time is granted — it is the amount of time required to clear the cargo for that particular Point of Destination (POD). Free time, however, varies from one POD to another; therefore, it is essential to know the different ports that your carrier will be docking. For instance, port agencies in a particular country might need five days free time to clear a shipment while the same carrier might be granted up to 21 days of free time in another port. Therefore, since every cargo is cleared differently, confirm the free time that your potential carrier is allowed in your destination port before committing. You will avoid racking up costly fees at every POD.
Cargo Tracking Tools — Although most imported construction materials have extended lead times, it is vital to keep track of your cargo constantly. However, it is only possible if the shipping carrier you select provides cargo tracking tools. It can be in the form of an online code which you can use to track the precise location of the carrier or an SMS alert with tracking updates. Most importantly, ensure that your shipping carrier offers tracking service before signing on the dotted line.