It’s really easy as a receiver of freight to believe in the magic of delivery. One click shops have desensitised us to all the steps it actually takes to get something to our door, and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is for you to decide. What we do know, however, is that as easy as it seems to simply pay a post office or other shipping facility money and the object gets simply whisked away to its destination, that’s definitely not the whole story.
Don’t worry too much about your lack of knowledge though, because you’ve stumbled across the article that will provide a little bit of background on freight, from beginning to end.
From the moment you drop off your package, the craziness of freight and shipping begins. The place where you drop off your package will be run by a freight service company, operating out of that branch.
The companies who run freight services will have a home base, basically as a centralised place where all packages go from each branch.
It’s also a place for delivery trucks to park at the end of a shift, as well as get serviced. Many home base freight companies will have a truck auto electrician on hand, and perhaps their own indoor diesel forklift to help manage any in house packing or sorting. They may also hire Auckland trucks instead of owning their own fleet.
This part of the freight process is in every kid’s wildest dreams, and hey, probably in a lot of adult’s dreams as well. The sorting of packages, especially in a centralised location where all kinds of packages are being brought before the final ship, is a maze of excitement. Roller coaster looking conveyor belts, multiple forklift services moving huge shipments in what appears to be organised disarray, and super speedy hands scanning barcodes left and right as they get sent on their journey. This, is the sort.
The sort is done in a place often known as a centralised location. This means that all packages, once picked up from your home or the post office or any other shipping company, all get brought to one place to sort and get sent out again. The maze of belts and people are in place to help make sure things get to where they’re supposed to, amidst millions of packages going through the process every day.
It works by people, still, who stand and scan packages and sort them by code, such as a postcode. They send the package on its appropriate conveyer belt, to be piled up with like post code packages. From there, they may end up on a plane again, or perhaps just a truck if it’s going somewhere mainly local.
The crazy thing about air freight, is the number of times it flies from location to location. As we found out above, most packages are shipped to a centralised location before being shipped out again. This means that if it’s going overseas, or even just further than a truck can drive in a short period of time, it’s going to be back on a plane. If going to another country, chances are high that it’ll end up in that country’s centralised location as well to start off with.
From there, the shipping process reverses, starting with another plane or truck to pick it up from the central location, then bring it down to whatever region it needs to go to. If you think it through, a package traveling a decent distance, or being shipped to or from a location far from the central location, could be on a plane 4 different times just to reach your door. And we wonder why shipping is so expensive sometimes!
Sea or ocean freight is one of the old school but highly effective modes of freight that won’t be going away anytime soon. Ocean freight tends to be much cheaper than other forms of freight, purely because of the length of time it takes. When a package gets loaded onto the shipping container, it starts a journey that can oftentimes be a bit dangerous, which you might not expect for a little package.
Ocean freighters are often crewed by a multinational group that’s small, but effective. Ocean freight is trying to be as cheap as possible to keep up with the demanding public who want their packages delivered cheaply and quickly. The crew is often extremely small to cut back on costs, and the fuel used is also as cheap as possible. Even their flags are convenient, meaning that they can fly a flag of whatever country they choose that makes the most sense to them and is in the flag registry, to help with taxes or in unfriendly waters. If you want to learn more about ocean freight, take a look at this TED talk video that goes into excellent detail.
Land freight is typically categorised by either train or truck shipping. It’s often the last step in long haul shipping, after the freight has been over potentially air and sea, and now it’s making its final stop via a truck or train. It’s also the more common shipping method for cross country shipments.
Land freight can sometimes be the only means of shipping, too, meaning that something is picked up from your location and driven straight to the delivery location. Land freight is made up of your local truckers, spending hours upon hours on the road getting freight across the country. The next time you pull up to truck stop or service centre and see rows of trucks, you’ll know that they’re probably taking a rest before they resume the long-haul of freight hauling.
And that’s it! Hopefully this has given you a broad introduction to how freight works, and you now have some background the next time you ship a package.