First and foremost is the total volume (in cubic meters [CBM]) of the cargo being shipped. Generally speaking, from a cost perspective, cargo that is less than 18 CBM should be shipped via LCL as the cargo wouldn’t take up enough space to justify using a whole container. Once the volume exceeds 18 CBM, it generally becomes more cost effective to ship via FCL.
Other factors to consider include:
- Securing delivery appointments at destination – with LCL shipments, it’s easier to secure delivery appointments due to the additional “free” time involved with the shipment type before additional charges start accruing – typically ~5 days at the port and ~7 or so days at the deconsolidation warehouse (depending on the port) vs 4-5 days total for FCL.
- Risk of accessorial charges – FCL shipments generally accrue more accessorial charges due to the equipment needed and the time frame involved. Charges can include chassis fees, bobtail fees, and wait time charges among others.
- Transit time – FCL wins here due to the shipment type having fewer steps in the shipment lifecycle. Since LCL shipments need to be consolidated at origin and deconsolidated at destination, you can expect to see those extra steps reflected as additional transit time.