The Challenges Of A Freight Manager


Ship types vary immensely and without going into too much detail here can be fully fitted container ships (used mainly on scheduled liner routes) , multi purpose ships (designed to try to cater for all needs or types of cargo) , Project ships – usually fairly “small” ships designed for heavy lift cargoes but because of their box hold configuration and versatile tween decks, are also eminently suited to the carriage of break bulk cargo such as   “big bags”  ( 1 – 2 T FIBC’) and bulky heavy lifts  as well as many other specialist vessels such as refrigerator ships, liquid gas carriers, tankers, car carriers and a number of other types .

The freight managers  knowledge of and ability to choose and source these according to  specific  requirements is of paramount importance.

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Naturally , for most  shippers , price is all important and he has to watch costs very closely and negotiate the best possible freight rates without compromising either safety or quality. The prime focus is always to give the customer what he wants , where he wants it and when he needs it on time in full.

Specific knowledge of various products , how to classify them for shipment if hazardous, liaison with the authorities such as the Chief Inspector of Explosives Office (explosives shipments) , The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)(all dangerous goods) (or the equivalent authority elsewhere in the world), Port Safety Officer, Port Management, Railways and others is part of the daily routine.

Intimate involvement with other departments such as the business units , purchasing, sites , planning and  projects is also critical.

Shipping people also don’t have the luxury of fixed hours to work in , a rail crisis at  2 ‘ o ‘ clock in the morning on a Sunday , is part of the deal and these often get resolved without the business ever being aware of it – it is a routine part of the seamless service the freigh manager has to provide. Other factors which impact on his time are the geographical siting of  customers where they can be operating 10 or 12 hours before or after you and also different religious beliefs , for example ,  Muslim countries observe their sabbath on a Friday  and on Sunday it is business as usual. Different countries of course , also have different public holidays so he has to be able to communicate with them at all sorts of times.

On occasion, especially where new customers or suppliers are involved, you may be required to travel to overseas , exotic locations to plan and supervise a shipment  – these are not very often the picture postcard , tourist type of place , but are more likely to be a backwoods , dirty little port with a lack of facilities at the other end of the world. Your knowledge and experience , as well as your ability to innovate and make do with limited or otherwise unsuitable equipment will be strained to the limit here. Naturally , on your return from a successful venture of this type , will most likely be brushed off  without any special recognition – that is what you are paid to do .

The job satisfaction has to come from within yourself and , before you know it , you will be faced with the next challenge!

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