Ocean freight transport is the shipping of goods by sea via shipping containers. It is the most common way of shipping goods, with 90% of all goods being shipped by Ocean freight or Sea freight. Ocean freight is often the best choice for shipping large amounts of goods since it is a lot cheaper and has a greater capacity than for example air freight. As a general rule, shipments weighing more than 100kg – or consisting of multiple cartons – will be sent by sea freight. One container can hold 10,000 beer bottles for example! Other pros are that there are fewer restrictions and laws to keep in mind. Also, compared to air freight, ocean freight is better for the environment in regards to CO2 emissions!
But as you can imagine, getting all those containers across the sea takes some time. Exactly how long depends on various factors – including the distance and the type of shipment. There are several steps that goods go through before they reach a vessel and before they arrive at their destination. As an estimation, you can usually add a week’s time on either end of the journey, in order to include all the other tasks that need to be completed before and after the route has been completed.
There are a number of ways in which sea freight can be transported. There is FCL, which stands for Full Container Load, where you purchase one or more full containers to send on a ship. Contrarily, LCL or Less Than Container load, refers to goods which share a container as you may not have a full container’s worth. Once they reach their destination, the container’s contents are divided once more. RORO or Roll On Roll Off, where the goods do not leave the vehicle they are in to go onto the cargo ship. The vehicle simply drives onto the ship and then drives off the other end. Contrarily, dry bulk shipping is used for some specific items, which are deposited into the hold of the ship instead of traveling in a container.
Specialized logistic companies contribute to solving the equation of complicated supply chains, and thereby control vast and varied amounts of goods. Ocean or Sea Freight operations generate information flows and cause the creation of value by the agents that take part in them, everyone from the Freight Forwarder to the Customs Clerk plays a vital role in the supply chain.
For working in Ocean Freight, hard skills in logistics, customer service, and planning will very likely be required. Working in Ocean Freight means managing and controlling different types of operations. This planning and execution require excellent communication and organizational skills. Furthermore, good IT skills may also be of importance, as many aspects of ocean freight use specialized programmes to plan, organize and oversee the transportation of goods.
A career in ocean freight often starts after being a trainee or apprentice of after studies related to transport, logistics and supply chain management. Throughout these paths of education, one can oftentimes already gain work experience, whether it be part of the apprenticeship or in the form of internships. It can be helpful to already decide one's specialization, such as ocean freight, early on, in order to enter the workforce with previous relevant experience.
After getting your first experience in entry-level positions, for example as an assistant, you will start gaining operational experience and processing orders. Through working with operational tasks, as for example Clerk, you get extraordinary know-how of Ocean freight, and your career path is moving towards either becoming an expert in your niche, could be as an Ocean Freight Customs Specialist or Product Manager, or gaining more responsibility in your field, as Department Manager Ocean Freight or Teamlead Ocean Freight.