LCL Shipment

Shipping containers piled on top of each other

Less-than-Container Load (LCL) shipment is a sea shipping method that is preferred when cargo loads are not large enough to fill a shipping container. They are shipped with other LCL cargos to maximize the space of the shipping container.

They are also known as groupage shipments.


  • Less-than-Container Load (LCL) shipments are often used when companies are shipping goods that are small in volume and do not fill up a whole shipping container.
  • It is more cost-effective as it lowers freight and inventory costs.
  • LCL shipments take a slightly longer time as compared to FCL shipments and cargos are prone to damages and delays.
  • The costs of LCL shipments depend on the cargo’s volume and weight.
  • Advantages of LCL Shipments

    Here are some of the critical advantages of LCL shipments and why companies choose it:

    • Lower freight costs

    LCL shipments allow companies to save on freight costs as they do not have to pay for the full container load. They only pay for the space that they require.

    They are especially useful for longer, potentially more costly journeys like shipments to Singapore from the UK, US, Germany, and Australia.

    • Lower risk

    By shipping in smaller volumes, there will be lower risks involved if cargo are lost or damaged during shipping.

    • Availability during peak season 

    During peak season, it may be difficult to secure a full container load. In such cases, companies can opt to transport cargo via LCL shipping.

    • Lower inventory costs 

    Companies who wish to keep their inventory costs low and storage space to a minimum can benefit from LCL shipping as they can transport cargo in smaller volumes.

    Disadvantages of LCL Shipments

    Despite their benefits, LCL shipments do come with their own disadvantages: 

    • Longer transit time

    LCL shipments may take 2 to 3 days longer than shipping via a full container load. This is because time is required to consolidate and deconsolidate the various cargo belonging to different entities before loading and after unloading them.

    • Possibility of damaged or delayed shipments

    By sharing a container space, a company’s goods can be affected by issues caused by other cargo in the same shipment.

    For example, goods that are not packed or secured well could damage other cargo during shipping. Discrepancies in the documents of another company’s cargo can also cause delays to the whole shipment.

    Calculation of LCL Shipment Charges

    The cost of such shipments depends on the cargo’s volume and weight and is usually measured in cubic meters (CBM).

    If a company is looking to transport a shipment measuring 3 meters in height, 5 meters in width, and 2 meters in length. The volumetric weight will be calculated as such:

    Volumetric weight = 3m x 5m x 2m = 30CBM

    Note: 1 meter is approximately equal to 39.37 inches (rounded to 2 d.p.)

    Procedure for LCL Shipments

    Step 1: Arrange for the shipment with a shipping company

    Once you have decided on a trusted shipping company, you will be required to provide all the details of the cargo. This includes the destination, dimensions of the shipment, and the date for pickup. This will allow the shipping company to ascertain the list of cargo that your shipment can be consolidated with.

    Step 2: Dispatch and ship the goods

    At the shipping company’s warehouse, your cargo will be consolidated with other LCL shipments. Goods that will be delivered along the same trade route will be grouped together before they are loaded onto a shipping container.

    Once the container is filled, it will be loaded onto a shipping vessel which will deliver them to the destination port.

    Step 3: Arrival at the destination port and last-mile delivery

    The container will be unloaded once it arrives at its destination. Next, it will be brought to a warehouse for deconsolidation, before each shipment is delivered to its respective final destination.

    LCL vs FCL Shipments

    Full-Container Load (FCL) shipment is a sea shipping method used when cargo loads are able to fill an entire container. It is usually used by companies with high shipping volumes or those transporting bulky items. 

    Here are some key differences between LCL and FCL shipments:

    • Time required

    LCL shipments tend to take slightly longer than FCL shipments. This is due to the additional time required for the consolidation and deconsolidation of cargo.

    • Cost per unit 

    The cost per unit tends to be higher for LCL shipments than for FCL shipments.

    • Place of loading

    LCL shipments are loaded at a shipping company’s warehouse once the cargo is consolidated. On the other hand, companies opting for FCL shipments can load their cargo onto the shipping container before it is picked up by the shipping company. This translates to less handling and a lower possibility of damaged goods.

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