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Ocean Freight Route Planning – Why Does It Matter?

  • February 13, 2022
  • 3 min read
Ocean Freight Route Planning – Why Does It Matter?

Ocean shipping is the backbone of global trade. As per OECD, ships carry as much as 90% of global cargo. Cargo ships use a complex network of ocean routes or shipping lanes, as referred to in maritime parlance, to carry goods from one place to another safely, efficiently, and quickly. With maritime trade volumes expected to triple in the next three decades, the proper selection of the ocean route will play an increasing role in ensuring business competitiveness.

Top Ocean Routes

Some of the busiest shipping routes across the world include:

Asia – U.S.: The Panama Canal makes trade between Asia and the U.S. East Coast easier. The canal makes it possible for ships to travel directly between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Had it not been for the canal, they would have to sail around Cape Horn, in the process travel 2000-8000 nautical miles more. Ships passing through the Panama Canal carried close to 260 million tons of cargo, mainly comprising coal, grains, crude oil, minerals, fuel, chemicals, electronic goods, cars, etc.

Asia – Europe: The Suez Canal, one of the most popular trade routes, provides the fastest link between Asia and Europe. Ships transiting the 193 km route carry 12% of global trade and a whopping 30% of containers. The main cargo items are oil, LNG, minerals, and consumer goods. Some of the world’s largest cargo ships use the Suez Canal.

Europe – U.K.: The Dover Strait is the most important trade link between the U.K. and Europe. According to estimates, some 30% of the U.K.’s exports to Europe and 22% of its imports go through this route. One of the busiest trade routes in the world, it has 400 ships using it daily.

Also read: furniture shipping companies

Importance of Ship Routing 

‍The proper selection of the sea route can make all the difference in global trade. Goods reach faster, more safely, and at lesser cost with proper route planning. Carriers also have to factor in other elements like cargo destinations, political unrest, piracy, and weather conditions when choosing an optimum shipping route from the point of origin and the destination. Typically, carriers use sophisticated route planning software, including a shipping time calculator to factor in all the important elements to arrive at the optimum route.

A sophisticated route planning software will help you determine the fastest and the most economical routes after factoring in the schedule constraints and fleet availability. By using route planning, carriers reduce fuel consumption, maintenance, chances of accidents, and overall cost of operations. With a route planning utility, they can make changes to the route in real-time as dictated by the environment. By using route planning tools, carriers can reduce the time required for route optimization and also eliminate the chances of making mistakes.


Shipping route planning, whether done by the shipper or the carrier, leads to a reduction of costs, faster deliveries, and superior customer satisfaction. Route planning enables carriers to be nimbler and avoid blockages and weather conditions that can mean delays and extra time and cost that can have serious repercussions on the bottom-line and reputation.