Ocean Freight vs. Air Freight for Shipping Hazardous Materials

 In air and ocean cargo shipping, air cargo shipped, Air Freight, hazardous materials, International Shipping, ocean freight, ocean freight rates, ocean shipping

This is a guest post by David Burns.

Shipping regular goods is stressful enough for any business that imports or export. However, if you find yourself in a position where you need to ship hazardous materials, the situation gets an additional layer of complications. Not to mention that you have to choose whether you want to do it using air or ocean freight. So, which is better for shipping hazardous materials? Ocean freight or air freight? Let’s take a closer look at what the answer is!

The Cost of a Hazardous Material Shipment

The first concern you’re likely to have when shipping hazardous materials is its cost. More so if you are trying to reduce shipping costs on your imports or exports. However, ocean freight wins almost every time when it comes solely to price. Yes, you can incur additional expenses in the form of handling fees if you opt for ocean freight. However, let’s compare that to air freight costs that nominally come with a ‘flat’ fee. First, transportation costs of any sort of hazardous material by air freight are steep. Then, you also need to consider that the size and weight of packages transported by air can significantly contribute to the cost. The two factors together mean that you are looking at a substantially higher transportation cost unless your package is very small and only a one-off thing.

The Speed of Making Your Shipment

A warning sign that you are shipping hazardous materials.

As can be expected, when it comes to the speed of shipping hazardous materials, air freight wins every time. Doubly so if you need to complete your shipment quickly on short notice. This is because of how flexible air freight services are. You have access to regular departures, with only a few hours of wait time at worst. You can have your shipment on a plane and heading to its location before you even begin to feel concerned about potential delays. Ocean freight, on the other hand, is somewhat slow and clunky. The first obstacles are less frequent departures. This means you might have difficulties finding someone to ship your goods on time. Then there’s the fact that ocean freight shipping schedules are always ‘estimates’ rather than the precise takeoff and landing predictions of air freight.

The Number of Goods You Can Ship at a Time

The following important factor to consider when shipping hazardous material is the volume you can ship off at once. Here, once again, the undisputed victor is ocean freight. The scale of shipment that ocean freight can provide is much greater than anything air freight can handle. You would need to do several loads using a plane to match up to what a single ship can carry. Of course, this is because of the limited size and scope of cargo planes. But, it is also partly because of what we discussed before: price. Things get exponentially more expensive the more cargo you ship using air freight. So, unless you want to pay far more than you have to and be limited by available space, your better bet would be to ship using ocean freight.

Restrictions You’ll Face Shipping Hazardous Materials

Of course, one of the most important factors when trying to ship hazardous materials is whether it’s possible in the first place. Well, if you are trying to do it using air freight, you’ll find that there are quite a few restrictions to follow. This is quite natural since hazardous materials obviously require cautious handling. A plane in flight can suffer from turbulence and a host of other problems, which significantly increase the risks. Ocean freight, on the other hand, allows the shipping of nearly all hazardous materials as long as regulations are followed. If you don’t want to deal with having to worry about your shipment being turned down, then it is definitely smarter to use ocean freight. Of course, the importance of proper logistics is once more evident if we take into account that specialized companies might offer air freight services even for ‘risky’ hazardous materials.

Preparing for Ocean Freight Shipment

You need to do several things to prepare for shipping hazardous materials by ocean freight, and the experts from professionalmover.ca recommend you follow them strictly. This is because sanctions imposed on poorly prepared shipments are hefty. First, you need to fill out a Material Safety Data Sheet. This lets you correctly classify your shipment. Then, you need certified personnel to check out your goods and help process them. Following that, you must properly label and package the cargo and fill out the required applications by the customs department at the origin.

Preparing for Air Freight Shipment

The preparations for shipping hazardous materials using air freight are rather exacting and are another reason why you might want the support of a qualified logistics business to do it. You need to observe the proper limits. Make suitable applications. Look into the classifications of your hazardous material shipment. Follow exact packing instructions and specifications. Provide the appropriate documentation, including a shipper’s declaration, air waybill, and adequate handling for the shipment. Depending on the air freight provider and your shipment’s destination, there might be more hoops for you to jump through, too.

The Final Conclusion on Shipping Hazardous Materials

As you can probably conclude on your own from our guide on ocean freight vs. air freight for shipping hazardous materials, the former wins out almost every time. The scope of what you can ship, the size of your shipments, and the cost of organizing a shipment all point to ocean freight as the better option. Of course, it is also true that ocean freight requires more preparation and forethought. After all, it is nearly impossible to put together a shipment on short notice and have it arrive at its destination on time if you rely on a ship to transport it. So, despite the other downsides, air freight could be the option you are looking for if you are in a hurry. That is as long as your shipment isn’t too big, of course. In that case, it might just be better to take things slow!

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David Burns

This was a guest post by David Burns.

Author bio:

David Burns is a shipping coordinator with several years of experience. He has dealt with various challenges, including hazardous material storage and shipping, and he enjoys sharing his experiences.

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