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Leveraging Shipping Cost Efficiencies (Part 1)

Examining ways to get parts from the manufacturer to your machines

CHICAGO — When it comes to acquiring parts required to keep machinery in operation, one of the factors is the shipping expense and time in transit. Whether you are shipping across the state line or to the other side of the globe, your parts distributor may be able to help you navigate the available options to save your company money and meet your delivery requirements.

Speed Vs. Cost

In general, if a domestic UPS ground shipment will take three to four days in transit to you and cost $25, moving to the least expensive air method, 2nd Day Air, will double the price to $50 and moving to the fastest method offered, Next Day Air, will double the price again to about $100.

International shipping can be extremely expensive since almost all shipments are done by air. The shipping options vary much less than with domestic shipments, but other factors can affect the total cost, such as consolidation.

Lead Time

While time in transit is an important part of the transportation of goods, it doesn’t make sense to pay a premium for faster transport if the company you are buying from does not have the item you need in stock and will have to wait days or weeks for the item to arrive. Look for a distributor that has a large inventory, allowing it to frequently ship the same day you place your order. If it does not have the item in stock, there could be multiple suppliers for any particular item that could offer expedited inbound service to help reduce the lead time.


Working with a distributor can help to minimize shipping costs by allowing parts from multiple manufacturers to be shipped in one shipment directly from their stock. If the items required are not in the distributor’s stock, it can act as a hub, bringing in products from multiple suppliers and consolidating them into one shipment destined for a single address anywhere in the world. Having one shipment from one U.S.-based supplier can save thousands of dollars when compared to using multiple suppliers.

Your distributor could also act as the “Small Package Forwarder,” with the added benefit of managing the inbound product shipments and relationships with multiple suppliers. It can mix different types of products into one shipment, combining OEM parts, generic parts, supply items and parts sourced from the suppliers to the machinery manufacturers, expanding the savings potential. See if your distributor can manage all the import/export documents, eliminating the delays that are often caused by missing documents during the customs clearance process in the destination country.

Come back Tuesday for the conclusion of this series, where we’ll examine international freight forwarding, small package forwarders and the pros and cons of various carriers.

Leveraging Shipping Cost Efficiencies

(Photo: © kentoh/Depositphotos)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].