Whether you have some heavy freight that needs to be shipped, or you’re just interested in the basics of freight shipping and how it works, you may be wondering what a freight carrier is – and what they do. So in this blog from A-1 Auto Transport, we’ll be taking a look at the basics, and explaining everything you need to know about freight carriers.
What Is A Freight Carrier?
A freight carrier is a company that transports large, heavy shipments from Point A to Point B – it’s that simple.
Companies that ship or sell products need a way to transport their shipments from plants and factories to warehouses, customers, ports, and other such places – and freight carriers are the ones who handle this process.
Only the very largest companies – such as Amazon and Walmart – have their own logistics teams and freight services, and they still often employ third-party freight carriers to carry shipments of goods.
What Do Freight Carriers Do?
Freight carriers are responsible for safely transporting products and goods from their origin – such as a factory, to their destination, such as a warehouse. Though this may seem simple, there are a number of different services that most freight carriers offer, and they all must meet stringent governmental regulations. Depending on the freight carrier, they may offer services including:
- Road transport – Trucking is the way that most goods are moved domestically in North America. According to the Bureau of Transportation, trucks carried 66.6% of the value of freight in June 2018 – up by more than 5% from the previous year.
- Rail transport – Rail transport is the second most common domestic method of transportation, and it’s frequently used to move large quantities of raw materials, or bulky and heavy products.
- Air transport – Air transport can be used for both domestic or international freight shipping. It’s usually the most expensive way to ship freight, but it’s also the fastest by far, making it ideal for lighter products and time-sensitive shipments.
- Maritime transport – Ocean-going vessels carry the vast majority of goods and products between countries, so maritime transport is often offered as part of a freight carrier’s services.
- Intermodal transport – Intermodal transport simply refers to freight shipping that uses more than one “mode” of transport, such as rail and road transport, or rail and maritime transport. Using multiple modes of transport can help maximize efficiency, save money, and ensure timely arrival for shipments of goods.
As you may already be able to tell, the process of shipping goods from one place to another is far from simple – and freight carriers must often work with other companies that own the railroads, airplanes, and cargo vessels that are used to ship manufactured goods and raw materials.
How Do Freight Carriers Determine Rates?
The process of determining the rate for a particular freight shipment depends on a number of different factors, and is different for each freight carrier. However, it’s usually based on factors like the overall size, weight, and dimensions of the shipment, how far it’s traveling, and the type of product being shipped.
- Size & weight – The overall volume and weight of a particular shipment is usually the largest determining factor in the cost of shipment. As a rule of thumb, heavier and larger items will always cost more to ship with a freight carrier.
- Dimensional weight – “Dimensional weight” is a calculation that takes into account the space that a lighter shipment takes up. This means that a shipment of light items (pillows, for example) that takes up a full shipping container would be charged at a similar rate as a heavier shipment (such as televisions) that takes up a similar volume of space.
- Distance of travel – The farther you’re shipping your goods, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also pay more for international shipping, and you may incur additional costs if you choose to use multiple modes of transit, or if you choose expedited shipping with air freight.
Type of product being shipped – All types of freight have a different “class” that can affect the cost of the shipment. In addition, some types of products, like hazardous chemicals and volatile materials, may carry additional charges and fees due to the inherent risk of transporting them, and the costs of meeting the legal requirements and environmental requirements for transport.
What Is A Freight Broker? How Do They Relate To Freight Carriers?
A freight broker is a company that does not offer shipping services of its own – but instead works as a “middle man” between shippers who have goods to transport, and individual freight carriers.
As you may already be able to tell from reading through this basic guide to freight carriers, it can be very difficult to work directly with freight carriers to ship items – in fact, you must often work with multiple carriers to deliver a single shipment, particularly if you are using multiple modes of freight including trucking, air transport, rail, and maritime freight.
Basically, a freight broker simplifies this process. They connect shippers with people who need goods to be shipped – and they sometimes even help handle the logistics of arranging the pickup and delivery of goods.
Need To Ship Freight Domestically Or Internationally? A-1 Auto Transport Is Here To Help
As a leading freight broker, A-1 Auto Transport can help connect you with reputable freight companies to move a wide variety of goods – including raw materials, manufactured products, and even vehicles and heavy construction equipment.
We’ve developed a reputation for excellence, and can help you move your goods on time and on budget – ensuring you benefit from reliable logistics for all of your freight. So don’t wait. Contact us online or call now at (800) 452-2880 to get started.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.