When it comes to receiving goods in larger quantities, a warehouse team prepares handling equipment and personnel accordingly. This team is in charge of the cargo receiving activities. However, not all warehouses or companies have this benefit and instead may take advantage of a sort and segregate service. 

Sort and segregate, or sort and seg in short, is a service provided by a carrier or transporter, in which the cargo unloading process and sorting activities are included. These activities can include piece counting, repacking, sorting, and quality checking among various other tasks. 

Sort and segregate services can be seen as an extension of a lumper service. There are various benefits of sort and segregate services that companies can take advantage of, which we will be exploring in this article. 

When Are Sort and Segregate Services Needed?

Sort and segregate services are generally requested by consignees to support the receiving process. However, it’s not uncommon for shippers to purchase this on behalf of the receiver as part of an added service of a purchase order. 

For import shipments, this activity is usually done in the consignee’s warehouse provided the facility is appropriate. Below are some guidelines, of when sort and segregate services can be beneficial to a company. 

  • When Companies Don’t Have The Required Skills Sets – The receiving process often entails additional services such as piece counting, checking, sorting and more. Not all receiving teams are adequately trained to undertake such activities, especially with larger volumes. In this case, taking advantage of a sort and seg service, may be beneficial. 
  • When Companies Don’t Have Enough Resources – Certain businesses run on seasonality, meaning that they have a team that is trained to handle the entire receiving process. However, due to a shipment influx it’s common for sort and segregate teams to support the on-going activities to alleviate bottlenecks with regards to the receiving activities.
  • If Companies Request to Verify Received Quality – Cargo is typically required to be unloaded by the consignee or through a third party, such as a lumper. If cargo requires piece counting or carton checking for verification purposes, sort and segregation is commonly required. 
  • If Cargo is Received In a Distribution Center – Distribution centers usually receive cargo, sort and store cargo, as this quickens the picking process at a later stage. Distribution centers usually fulfil orders and would need to have the cargo sorted and segregated accordingly upon receiving.

Who Offers Sort and Segregate Services?

There are various companies that offer sort and seg services. While they are most commonly offered by trucking companies and carriers, there are also other service providers. 

  • Freight Forwarders – freight forwarders are usually known to be a jack of all trades in the logistics and freight industry. Certain forwarders offer sort and seg services through their vendors as an extension of their service to customers.
  • Truckers – it’s common for trucking companies to offer this service and have regular contracts if sort and segregate services are needed. 
  • 3PLs – the consignee may require sort and services and warehouse management, which can also be arranged with certain 3PL service providers.
  • Carriers – like freight forwarders, carriers may offer sort and segregate services and may even have longer term contracts with their customers. Some carriers who do not offer this are able to refer you to their vendors.
  • Agencies – there are also certain agencies who are in the business of providing labor. While these tend to be generally warehouse workers, they can also cover the scope of what a sort and segregate service would entail. However, these arrangements are typically billed monthly, instead of an activity basis. 

By What Is Cargo Sorted and Segregated?

Cargo and be sorted and subsequently segregated by various aspects, such as packaging, colors, weight, type etc. The way it gets sorted depends on the consignee’s requirements, which typically depends on how the cargo is organized and assigned in the warehouse. Here is some of the most common sorting criteria:

  • Size – Certain warehouses sort products by various product sizes. Although uncommon, you can find this from time to time. 
  • Weight – Also uncommon is having products sorted by weight. This is usually done in warehouses with weight-restricted racking systems.  
  • Type – One of the most popular sort and segregate techniques is by the type of product. Products are separated according to their type by identification of their stock keeping unit (SKU) number.
  • Color – Usually for single product warehouses, goods can be segregated by color. 
  • Location – Sometimes, goods are also sorted by the onward location for easy identification and subsequent loading. 

As you can see, there are various ways to sort and segregate cargo. The way this is done should always be in accordance with what the consignee’s best practices are and how the warehouse or the receiving facility is managed. 

How Are Sort and Segregate Fees Charged?

Sort and segregate fees are typically found as a separate line item on transport invoice or on a separate invoice if provided by an agency. These fees can be charged by weight, piece, size or the overall service. 

Here is an example:

Company Name:West Coast Logistics Inc. 
Delivery Location:3816-3822 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Trucking Services:$350.00
Sort and Segregate Fee:$180.00
Total Fees:$530.00

Who Pays For Sort and Segregate Fees?

Payment for sort and segregate services depend on the freight terms and agreements between the shipper and the consignee. However, it’s more common for consignees to request and pay for sort and segregate services, as part of their receiving process and to verify the delivery quantity, in case an order is short shipped

Can Sort and Segregating Be Insourced?

A company can certainly render sort and segregate activities through their own warehouse team. This is also a common procedure for larger companies with dedicated receiving teams. 

When insourcing, the warehouse team will receive, inspect, sort and segregate all receiving cargo before the putaway process starts. If there is no warehouse team present, then sort and segregate services are usually outsourced to a service provider.

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Andrew Lin

Co-Founder & Writer
at freightcourse

About the Author

Andrew is a multi-business owner with over 12 years of experience in the fields of logistics, trucking, manufacturing, operations, training, and education.

Being the co-founder of freightcourse has given him the ability to pursue his desire to educate others on manufacturing and supply chain topics.