How to choose the right mode of transport for your goods

The type of transportation of your goods to the destination depends on a number of factors:

  • The products you sell (e.g. perishables or non-perishables)
  • Supplier production lead times
  • Product availability
  • Source of supply (e.g. China or others)
  • Customs and Excise rules (e.g. duty or quarantine)
  • Volume

You can use one method for all your transportation needs or a combination. Here are the main types of transportation, and their advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Air Transportation

This mode of transport is useful for delivery products with short lead times, fragile and small-size goods. The bulk/value ratio will be a determining factor.



Advantages of the Air Transportation:

  • Fast delivery
  • Variety of destinations
  • High level of reliability and safety
  • Tracking of cargo location
  • Delivery of small-size cargo

Disadvantages of the Air Transportation:

  • Flight delays and/or cancellations
  • Customs and Excise/size/weight/packing restrictions
  • High air freight rates
  1. Sea Transportation:

Mainly sea transportation is conducted in containers which vary in size. Goods can be delivered as grouped cargo into a container (LCL) or as full-container load shipment (FCL).




Advantages of the Sea Transportation:

  • High level of safety
  • The cheapest cost of transport
  • Easy to reload on any mode of transport
  • Long distance delivery, including remote and hard-to-reach places
  • Variety of destinations
  • Ideal for transportation of heavy, bulky and oversized cargo
  • Suitable for products with long lead times
  • Flow capacity of shipping lines without any restrictions, except for ports opportunities

Disadvantages of the Sea Transportation:

  • Longer lead/delivery times
  • Season surcharges
  • Frequent (monthly) changes in ocean freight rates by shipping lines
  • Deadlines of drop-off
  • Short navigation period for North regions
  1. Rail Transportation:

Rail transportation is useful for the delivery of a wide range of goods including coal, steel and other heavy goods.




Advantages of the Rail Transportation:

  • Longer lead/delivery times
  • Cost-effective
  • High level of safety and reliability

Disadvantages of the Rail Transportation:

  • Suppliers/customers are not always located near a railroad freight depot and delivery to/from the depot can be costly and time consuming
  1. Road Transportation:

A very popular mode of transport to deliver cargo. Goods can be packed/grouped in box, vans or in containers which are also used for sea transportation.




Advantages of the Road Transportation:

  • Cost-effective, especially for LCL shipments
  • Fast delivery
  • Variety of destinations
  • High level of safety and reliability
  • Ideal for short distances of the delivery of small consignment cargo
  • Easy to monitor location of goods

Disadvantages of the Road Transportation:

  • Transport subject to traffic delays
  • Restrictions during the delivery of LCL cargo, which require special temperature conditions
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Longer delivery of LCL cargo
  1. Multimodal transportation:

Multimodal transportation (also known as combined transportation) is a delivery of goods under a single contract, but performed with two different means of transport at least (sea, rail, road and air), using of a various transport infrastructure (terminals, warehouses for consolidation, ports, airports). For multimodal transportation there is only one company-carrier which is responsible for the organization of transportation from the beginning to the end.

Advantages of the multimodal transportation:

  • Faster transit of goods
  • Cost-effective
  • Long distance delivery, including remote and hard-to-reach places
  • Variety of destinations
  • Advantages of all types of transportation
  • One agent is responsible for the delivery by all means of transport

Disadvantages of the multimodal transportation:

  • More reloadings and risks related to reloadings.

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It’s interesting that 20 or 40 foot container became the standard only in 1964! Modern transportation cannot be imagined without containers for  obvious reasons:

  1. 1.Container protects the cargo from environmental influences and ensures preservation for any mode of transportation;
  3. 2.The same container can be moved from one mode of transport to another (from ship to rail or truck) without unloading and reloading the contents of the container;
  5. 3.Container must be sealed, so only final consignee can open it. Sealed contained guarantees the safety of the cargo and helps to avoid a lot of claims against the carrier.

Hence, container transportation is very convenient, fast, reliable and affordable.