For anyone involved in logistics on a regular basis you undoubtedly have dealt with time critical shipments – that is to say when something needs to be there ASAP. Sadly, in today’s world of Amazon, the idea of “time critical” is becoming completely commoditized. Everyone – customers, suppliers, internal stakeholders, and bosses – expect things quickly. This is nothing new. However over the past decade “quickly” has gone from meaning “as soon as you can reasonably get it there” to “I need it here tomorrow.”
Now I’m not saying most people asking for shipments ASAP are exaggerating (actually, yes I am, that’s exactly what is happening), but there are serious business cases where you actually do need to get something somewhere quickly and securely, or things are going to go downhill fast.
So what is Time Critical Freight (AKA Hand Carry)?
Time Critical Freight (also known as Hand Carry Freight, Handy Carry, On Board Carrier service, or just OBC) is the fastest end-to-end delivery option for time-sensitive, critical, and invaluable cargo. Hand Carrying entails a courier (ie a human) personally traveling with and carrying the goods by hand (hence the name). The Hand Carrier will physically bring the goods with them through the entire shipment process, including security/customs, onto the airplane (not checked luggage), and through to final delivery.
In addition to the actual delivery person, Hand Carry companies will offer extensive 24/7 tracking and updates so you know exactly where your package is every step along the journey. Shipping via Hand Carry is often also combined with NFO (next flight out) and other urgent shipping services to ensure that the goods arrive as quickly as possible.
When would I use Time Critical Shipping?
Here’s a scenario where a customer may need a hand carry: a machine in their factory in Michigan breaks and a one-of-a-kind part is required to fix the machine. The company is up against tight production deadlines and this part costs upwards of $50,000 and comes from a small manufacturing town in China. In this case, to ensure safe and fast delivery of this part, OBC may be the best route to take.
How Expensive is Hand Carry?
Expensive. Like really expensive. There’s not much else to add, except that if you’re going to use this method of transport, be sure you truly have a critical need. And trust me, you’ll be reminded of this when you get the quote.