Container Freight Stations: Adding Value To Warehousing

October 30 , 2021 | CATEGORY : SERVICES

Where a conventional warehouse offers storage space to hold cargo or assemble varying consignments to fill one container, a Container Freight Station is a facility that not only consolidates freight, but also prepares the cargo for its onward journey. While offering the warehouse's services of consolidating Less Than Container (LCL) goods and filling a container, a CFS also offers a bouquet of allied services that address the entire chain of the cargo's movement.

Primarily of two types – origin and destination – the origin CFS consolidates the freight before the goods are shipped to the destination station, while the destination CFS de-consolidates the shipments before despatching them to the end recipient. Offering its services primarily to freight forwarders, customs brokers and key clients, the CFS takes custody of the shipment and tracks its status through the onward journey, while providing a comprehensive view of the shipments, manifest data and bill of lading data.

A vital service

From fresh fruits, garments and appliances, to auto parts, chemicals and steel – the entire spectrum of cargo from a pin to a plane is handled by the CFS operators. A boon for time-sensitive freight shipments, the CFS increases the efficiency of the entire supply chain, especially in Exim trade where the cargo has to be consolidated, transported and deconsolidated in short durations of time. The CFS warehouses are an imperative for customers that need consolidation services on a consistent and continuous basis since they do not have Full Container Load (FCL) volumes. This not only ensures cost savings, but also provides an additional layer of security vis-à-vis theft or damage as goods are transported directly from the port to and from the secure container freight station warehouse.

Apart from import and export FCL and LCL transportation, the CFS also offers customers added services such as bonded storage, container leasing, maintenance and repair, etc. Today’s state-of-the-art facilities are C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) compliant and ISO-certified, delivering globally benchmarked quality and safety to customers. Heightened safety protocol is another area where a CFS scores over conventional warehouses. The modern CFS facilities have the latest fire-safety equipment and follow world-class processes for storage of hazardous cargo. The CFS conducts stringent checks for entry and exit of cargo and personnel, with CCTV cameras and high boundary walls preventing unauthorised access.

The tech differentiator

With IoT, robotics and Big Data, the nature of logistics and customer service is set for even bigger change, and leading CFS players are already at the forefront of this transformative evolution. These

CFS players are increasingly adopting technology and digital tools to make their operations more efficient, as well as bring greater agility and transparency to their CFS services. Trust, reliability and transparency are integral for any logistics services and in the CFS business, these become even more important given the intensity of operations and high value of containers. Technology offers an interface for customer convenience and is a key differentiator vis-à-vis conventional warehousing.

With hundreds of containers entering and leaving the CFS, risk mitigation and resource deployment are constant challenges. To address these areas, reputed operators have launched a host of initiatives aimed at their CFS customers who include the biggest EXIM players and leading shipping companies. A bulk of queries at a CFS relate to the arrival status of import containers. CFS operators have designed feature-rich online portal to take the load off importers who receive containers in large lots, sometimes up to 60 containers at a time. Tracking the status of each container in such cases can be cumbersome. In the new web search option, a customer simply keys in the Import

Journal Manifest (IJM) number to get details of every single container in that batch.

Customer First

From sharing arrival status and the exact location of the container at the CFS in real time, to reporting the status of outbound containers and allowing their importers to track the consignment position right up to the point of delivery, customer-centric CFS service providers are going way beyond warehousing to offer end-to-end solutions to their customers. Essentially, the handling of cargo has been redefined by CFS operators like Allcargo, who have elevated conventional warehousing services to end-to-end solutions for their customers.

At Allcargo, we have our own four CFS facilities in India, complete with state-of-the-art technology platforms, world-class equipment and processes, 24/7 security systems, specialist storage areas, and an extensive range of value-added and fulfilment services delivered by experienced teams.

10 services that make a good CFS:

  • Fast movement between port and CFS
  • Domesticated container storage
  • Bonded cargo facility
  • Reefer containers for cold chain
  • Customised billing system with single window billing for key customers
  • Separate billing counter for LCL, located close to the place of delivery
  • Single point relationship management
  • Item-based container track and trace, in addition to container-based search
  • Mobile app for import container status, export container status & RFID location
  • Digital operations efficiency with cashless e-payment options