The logistics industry utilizes four common transportation methods to ship goods. The method used depends on the distance to the destination and the type of cargo transported. However, in many cases, deliveries require multi-modal transportation, meaning a combination of freight methods is used to get goods from point A to point B for seamless supply chain management. Let’s unpack the different types of transportation used in logistics operations.
What are the Different Types of Transportation Used in Logistics?
Road freight is the most popular option for local and national deliveries. Especially those that require fast delivery of goods to the customer. It’s a crucial component of the Final Mile in international trade deliveries from the port of entry into a country to the customer.
Road transportation is a financially viable form of moving freight in the logistics process. This form of land transportation is suitable for transporting various goods, from consumer electronics to perishables and hazardous materials.
Rail freight is still one of the most cost-effective and trusted freight methods used today. This transportation method moves goods from manufacturing destinations in cities to ports on the country’s coastline. Landlocked countries might send rail freight long distances through several other countries to reach ports.
Rail transportation accounts for approximately 15% of freight shipments in North America and Europe, as these nations have an extensive network of railways.
Trains offer more load-carrying capacity compared to other modes of transportation such as road freight. Heavy machinery and large or heavy goods are often shipped by rail.
Producing a quarter of the emissions, rail transportation has less of a negative environmental impact.
90% of the world’s goods move via sea freight. Cargo ships can hold thousands of tons of goods. Maritime transportation is the most cost-effective method of international shipping and is highly versatile. Sea freight is a suitable shipping option for a variety of goods ranging from electronics and heavy machinery to livestock and more.
Sea freight is the backbone of global trade. Some argue that it is an environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly logistics option. However, others argue that shipping crude oil and other energy products can present environmental hazards. An example of this is the Exxon Mobil Valdez oil spill in 1986.
Air transportation is the fastest method for delivering goods. It’s globally accessible, reaching any destination with an airport. When customers want goods overnight or in the shortest time possible, vendors use air freight. Planes are commonly used for transporting perishable goods that need to get from source to market as soon as possible.
Air freight is reliable due to its fixed schedule, and it’s a high-security option. Packages receive thorough screening before shipping, and airports are highly secure venues. The main disadvantage over other transportation methods is that air freight transportation services are the most expensive transportation method used in logistics.
Intermodal transportation involves the seamless movement of goods using multiple modes of transportation, such as trains, trucks, and ships, within a single, coordinated system.
Most deliveries of goods rely on a combination of freight methods. For instance, the logistics transportation manager might use road freight to get goods to the airport for air freight. Once goods arrive at a destination, road freight is most commonly used for the final delivery of goods to consumers.
Additional Information: Moving Goods in the United States – U.S. Department of Transportation
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