In the previous post – T – Three Partners in Your Overseas Manufacturing Team – I discussed how your manufacturer must work closely with your freight forwarder and with your US Customs broker for efficient importing of your product.

In this blog, let’s break down importing logistics so that you can understand and plan to successfully import your product. Some consultants that assist inventors with importing goods imply the process is complex and difficult to grasp (thus the need for help from a consultant!). Actually, the process can be mastered by anyone willing to invest a bit of learning: it all boils down to knowing the following 5 key timeframes:

A. Order turn around from your manufacturer
B. Shipping schedules for your port of export to the US arrival port
C. Warehouse and loading/unloading in export and import port
D. Shipping timeframe – “on water” time
E. Approximate IT – Inland Transit time – to final destination in US

As before, I’ll use an example from my situation to illustrate this more clearly.

For me, A is typically 8 weeks to be “delivered” FOB Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, B is simple, there is a ship leaving for Port of Long Beach every Sunday/Monday (can be either day). For C, I estimate approximately 1 week in Hong Kong prior to shipment and approximately 1 week in Long Beach after arrival – so two more weeks. D – on water time from Hong Kong to Long Beach is consistently 14 days – another two weeks. Lastly, E – IT time is about 1 week shipping overland from Long Beach to Dallas.

Given all of the above, I know from start of the order to arrival at my destination (Dallas area) is very close to 13 weeks or 3 months. My key metric is from FOB Hong Kong to arrival in Dallas is very close to one month.

So, if I need to have my product arrive on or about September 1, I had better place the order by the end of May (preferably earlier), below are estimated milestone dates:

Order date: May 29 – 2014
FOB Hong Kong: July 30 (is a Wednesday)
• Ship leaves Hong Kong on Aug 3 (Monday)
Ship arrives in Long Beach on Aug 17
Truck leaves Long Beach on Aug 22 for Dallas
Cargo arrives in Dallas area on Aug 26
Cargo is available for pick up on Aug 27

The dates are not quite as precise as described above, but it illustrates how a logistics plan can be made without great difficulty once the 5 key timeframes are known. First you determine your desired arrival date of product and then back up approximately 3 months to know when you must order.

In the next post, we’ll again consider the big picture: V – Value Proposition – is this Product Worth Developing?