Air, Road, Sea and Rail. These are the four major modes of transport (or types) in the logistics industry. Which method you use will depend on what you’re shipping, where you’re shipping from and where you’re shipping to.
Even then, more than one method may be suitable. That’s why it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages for each mode of transport.
Depending on your requirements you will also need to determine which mode of transport has the largest carrying capacity.
Read on as we explain and explore each mode of transport in detail and where they work best while giving you an industry overview.
Road freight is a popular choice for transporting for all manner of goods across the globe. It’s particularly suited to situations where products are being transported across borders and for final-mile delivery to customers’ doors.
It’s a common choice in countries like the USA and Canada, where road freight accounts for the majority of transport, and it can be used in combination with every other mode of transport on this list.
Sea freight accounts for the vast majority of the world’s trade. More than 90% of all goods are transported by ships.
For an idea of scale: Statista report the 10 largest container ports are responsible for more than 247m TEU throughput in 2021
That’s because ships can carry significantly heavier loads than air freight at a fraction of the cost. As a result, it’s the preferred choice for transporting bulk materials like agricultural produce and raw materials.
Furthermore, its worth noting ocean shipping is the most integral part of the supply chain for most of the worlds industries, cited in this Statista report, making it a backbone of global trade.
Between 2013 and 2019, both the capacity of the global merchant fleet and the volume of seaborne trade increased significantly. During this time span, the volume of goods carried by ships rose by almost 35 percent, while the combined capacity of merchant ships grew by around 17 percent.
Any reputable freight forwarder should provide access to a global shipping network with a range of services including FCL and LCL shipments.
Air freight is the go-to choice for speedy delivery. It’s accessible all over the world and a convenient method to move smaller shipments long distances. Given that most major cities have an airport, air freight also lets businesses ship to specific areas or regions.
Trains are a vital part of logistics routes across the globe, particularly in Europe and North America, where rail networks are comprehensive. In North America, for instance, rail freight accounts for about 15% of all freight journeys. It’s the ideal choice for organisations that require fast, scheduled and reliable freight in areas of the world where rail networks are strong.
It’s rarely possible to use one method of freight transport for your cargo’s entire journey. Where multiple methods are required, opting for a multimodal shipping service should always be the first choice.
Multimodal shopping is where cargo is moved from origin to destination using multiple transportation methods. Unlike intermodal shipping, each transportation route is operated by the same carrier under a single contract. That carrier is responsible for the entire journey.
Multimodal shipping has several advantages over intermodal shipping. It’s a much more streamlined service for one. With one company in charge of every leg of the journey, you can deal with a single point of contact who can provide updates and troubleshoot issues about the entire journey. It’s much easier to track your shipment as a result and get realistic timelines. Delivery should also be more efficient because there is no handover process.
Most freight forwarders specialise in multimodal shipping transportation across the globe. For more information on our entire range of services, speak to a member of our team today.