Which mode of transport is the best for transporting cargo?

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January 26, 2018

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If you are thinking of transporting cargo, the mode of transportation that you will use is a very important consideration in the shipping process. Because the logistics industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past years, you, the customer enjoys more options than ever. When shipping, prioritizing your needs, as well as comparing your cost is just as important when preparing and planning your shipment.

Besides evaluating what your final costs will be, you will also have to evaluate the urgency of your shipment, the size and the weight of the cargo that you are transporting, as well as the value of your cargo so that you can determine which mode of transportation will work best for your cargo.

The different modes available for transporting cargo

Ocean transport

Ocean transport accounts for a huge portion of the global trade. Ocean transport is a viable option for many people transporting cargo globally because it is comparatively less expensive compared to other methods. Furthermore, where factors such as size and weight might present a challenge for road or air transport, ocean freight can accommodate practically any type of cargo. However, one major drawback is that ocean freight typically experiences a longer transit time than other transportation modes.

Ocean transport is used commonly for transporting cargo such as bulky agricultural commodities, as well as wet bulk that may consist of products like petrol and crude oil. Odd shaped items such as engines and high volume cargo such as minerals and metals can also be moved effortlessly through ocean freight. The benefits of ocean freight include:

  • It can transport a wide array of cargo.
  • It is the best mode of transport for large volumes; a single container ship can handle 20,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.
  • It is by far the greenest and most environmentally safe way to move cargo.
  • Because ocean cargo involves linear shipping, it is the most economical way of transporting goods globally.

Road transport

Road transport is one of the most commonly used ways of transporting cargo. It is widely used in all corners of the earth and it provides the seamless movement of cargo from county to county or state to state. Road transport utilizes motored and wheeled trucks and has several advantages including:

  • It provides customers with an inclusive door to door service.
  • For short hauls that are less than 640 km, road transport can be a much cheaper option. Small shipments are also great for road transport regardless of the distance involved.
  • Road transport is frequent and consistent.
  • It is a highly flexible choice as trucks can access even the most rural or isolated places.

Unfortunately, road transport is often limited by the size of the vehicles used as well as by the weight and size restrictions of some of the cargo. Road transport can also be affected by sudden weather disruptions and poor road networks.

Air transport

Air freight is a critical component of the shipping process. Air transport is ideal for any market or supply chain that stresses swiftness and speed. Industries that have been known to opt for air transport instead of road or ocean are the automotive and retail industries as they often require orders to be filled in haste.

Air transport allows businesses to replenish their inventory based on demands or as required. As such, it provides businesses and organizations great flexibility. Additionally, it reduces overall costs by eliminating inventory or warehousing costs.

Some of the best goods to transport by air include perishables such as food, pharmaceuticals, and transport of any valuable cargo. Overall, when transporting sensitive cargo, the chances of experiencing damage or theft are much lower when you opt for air transport.

  • It experiences fast transit periods overall.
  • It allows for safe handling of cargo.
  • Air transport also has lesse documentation than other transport modes
  • Reliable arrival and dispersal of goods than any other means of transport owing to the enhanced level of security.

Multi-modal transport

When you are not sure about the best mode of transport to use, you can opt for a multi-modal solution instead. Multi-modal transport simply means the use of more than one mode to transport your cargo. Multimodal transport solutions are cost effective when you want to manage your shipment at every phase from beginning to end.

Multi-modal transport is encouraged if you are transporting high-value goods and you need to ensure that optimum care is maintained throughout. Examples of common multi-modal options include sea-air multi-modal transport or road-air multi-modal transport.

Benefits of multi-modal transport include:

  • Your cargo can be moved and transported to any region of the world through multi-modal transport options.
  • Multimodal transport also reduces the distance and time it takes for a manufacturer to send goods out to a customer.
  • It is an effective way to transport cargo while cutting costs.


Find out more

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