How To Choose The Best Transportation Mode for Your Business

Posted by Marian

Businesses today are onboard new realities and challenges, especially when it comes to ordering processing, warehouse management, and transportation or shipping.

While the demands of today’s consumers can prove to be overwhelming, Zip Logistics has found a way to override the difficulties and complexities of supply chains and transportation with a bullet-proof system that works for every entrepreneur of all shapes and sizes.

The four primary modes of transportation in logistics are shipments by truck, ship, train, and plane — also known as road, maritime, rail, and air shipments. While each of these modes of transportation has unique benefits, knowing which method is suitable for your business requires careful consideration.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at each of these four types of logistics transportation and discuss the pros and cons of each, as well as an alternative shipping option known as intermodal transportation.

Setting and Meeting Targets with the Best Freight Forwarder

Logistics, Truck, Cargo Ship, Group, Transmission

If you partner up with the best, you also reap the rewards of a good and solid business relationship. There’s a special connection between a company that sells goods internationally and its freight forwarder. You have to choose your partner wisely.

A Freight Forwarder Guyana doesn’t ship your goods itself but takes care of the logistics to get your goods to other markets smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. They can manage some of the process steps for you, or they can take you every step of the way—often called “dock to door.”

You can get a basic understanding of the services a freight forwarder might offer by envisioning all the steps it takes to get merchandise, supplies, equipment, machinery, or other types of tangible products from one country to another. This can include:

  • Warehouse management or storage;
  • Preparing goods for shipping(by sea, air, road, or rail);
  • Preparing required documentation;
  • Purchasing cargo insurance;
  • Booking transportation and making sure the transporter has all the information and documents required (such as bills of lading);
  • Negotiating prices, routes, and schedules, to find the right balance between speed, cost, and reliability;
  • Tracking the shipment;
  • Upon arrival, breaking down the shipment into smaller shipments for delivery to various destinations in the market;
  • Filing claims on the cargo insurance if something goes wrong;

The Right Logistics Fit for Your Business

Team, Hands, Gears, Network, Web, Touch, Teamwork

If the shoe fits, wear it. This also rings true in the logistics space. In a world where fast shipping is not just a luxury, but an expectation, choosing the right type of logistics transportation for your company is crucial for the success of your business, the safety of your product, and the happiness of your customers.

Before you choose a logistics transportation method, consider the following factors and use the information to guide your decision making:

The Product

Look into the type and weight or volume of products you are transporting. Analyze your shipment carefully to set expectations.

Is your product hazardous, perishable, or challenging to handle? What are the dimensions of the shipping container?

This information is critical for choosing a shipping method that can accommodate your products within budget.

Location

Location is pivotal to your freight considerations. You have to check into where the shipment is leaving and its final destination:

  • Shipping Origin – Where are you shipping from? It is crucial where you or your products are located, as it’s the starting point for your mileage tracking. Do you have access to maritime ports, railroads, or airports?
  • Borders – Are you shipping across country borders and require special clearance? What natural borders will your shipment cross? While one method of transportation might be the most suitable option for your product, it may be more expensive and time-consuming than other means if you are not located within easy access to these options.
  • Shipping Destination – Where are you shipping to? The shipping destination is one of the most significant factors to consider. Calculate the total shipping distance, factoring in all stops and checkpoints.
  • Consumers – Are you shipping to an individual or a business? This might indicate which speed or method is preferable.

Special Considerations

It’s essential to take into account the cost and difficulty of any special considerations your shipment requires:

  • Time – The time of year you’re moving your product — during the holiday season, for instance — might impact overall shipment times.
  • Urgency – How urgent is your shipment? Can you afford a delay — both financially and in the eyes of your consumers?
  • Budget – What is your transportation budget? Convenience is great, but staying within your budget is crucial for long-term operations.
  • Existing Relationships – Examine the resources to which you already have access. What shipping and logistics companies do you have a relationship with already? What services do they offer?

Understanding Different Transportation Methods – Pros and Cons

Logistics, Truck, Cargo Ship, Group, Transmission

Not every transportation method will fit your business. With that being said, you need to choose a transportation method that will work for your specialized or unique needs in the business.

No matter how you ship, there are advantages and downsides to each method. The secret to finding the best transportation option for your business is to understand these differences and determine which one best fits your business needs and requirements. Here is a breakdown of each transportation method and its pros and cons:

Truck Freight

Heavy, Truck, Carrying, Driver, Shipper, Trailer, Cargo

Truck or road transportation has come a long way since the days of horse and wagon shipments. Truck transportation is ideal for industries that require quick, small shipments directly to a business, warehouse, or consumer’s door and is equipped to handle possible delays.

The top three commodities in trans-border truck shipping are computers and computer parts, electrical machinery, and vehicles and motor parts. Other industries that rely on truck freight include grocery and retail, e-commerce, construction, and agriculture.

Pros

  • Fewer Restrictions – Compared to other modes of transportation, there are far fewer restrictions for truck freight, including heavy or hazardous materials. Trucks are also easier to track than different modes of transportation due to built-in navigational systems and real-time tracking abilities, so you always know exactly where your shipment is located.
  • Cheaper Option – Truck freight is very economical than air and ship transportation because associated expenses, such as fuel and truck maintenance, are far less costly.
  • Greater Accessibility – Road transportation is highly accessible. Most companies have easy access to a central highway system, while not every company has access to railroads, airports, or ships for other forms of transportation.
  • Provides Multiple Options – With truck freight, you have limitless options available to you. Many different specialized trucking companies can accommodate perishable, hazardous, or oversized goods. Depending on the shipping company, you can choose from the parcel, full truck, and less than truckload shipping. When you only need to ship a small number of packages, parcel shipments are an excellent option. Similar to parcel shipping is less than truckload (LTL) shipping. LTL freight services are ideal when your shipment is less than a truckload but too large or oddly shaped for parcel shipments. Compared to full truckload shipments, parcel and LTL provide an enticing level of flexibility that other transportation methods cannot.
  • Allows Door-to-Door Shipment – Perhaps the most significant benefit associated with truck freight is the ability to ship a product directly to the consumer’s front door. Although last-mile delivery is not always available due to the type and size of the product or final destination, the possibility of door-to-door shipment is why many companies opt for truck freight over other methods.

Cons

  • Prone to Delays – Truck freight can take longer and is more susceptible to shipment delays than other methods. The average truck travels roughly around 50 miles per hour on major roadways. Other factors, such as road closures, bad weather, or heavy traffic, can also have unpredictable impacts on delivery times. 
  • Less Control – Due to how truck freight works, you do not control how your products are handled. Road travel can be rough on some shipments, and some companies may mishandle your product — that’s why it’s crucial to work with a trusted logistics company backed by experience and client testimonials.

Sea or Ocean Freight

Ship, Cargo, Port, Freight, Trade, Warehouse, Container

If you are shipping heavy or voluminous loads, you would probably opt for sea or ocean freight. Ocean transport accounts for more than 80% of the world’s trade economy.

The United States alone relies on water transportation for international merchandise trade. Whenever your business requires transport for heavy, cumbersome loads — or country-to-country shipping — ship transportation is usually the way to go.

Compared to other modes of transportation like air transportation, ships can carry immensely heavier loads for a fraction of the cost. It is the preferred transportation for large items shipped in bulk, such as metals, agriculture products, building supplies, and others that cannot be reasonably accommodated by plane.

If you are shipping items that require special handling or packaging, ocean freight is definitely the best route.

Pros

  • Accommodates Large Volumes – If you intend to ship enormous cargo volumes, then go for sea freight right away. Cargo ships range varies in length and can carry thousands of tons of weight. For this reason, ships are often the best — and only — option for oversized products or bulk quantities that must move simultaneously.
  • Affordable Option – Sea or ocean transportation is often a more economical choice than air transport due to the lower fuel cost. Cargo ships operate on a set schedule, so there is also less opportunity for costly shipping delays.
  • Ensures Safety – Because ships operate on a set route and planned schedule, your shipment will go through minimal handling. It will be securely stored in a slow-moving vessel most of the time, which is preferable for easily damaged goods.

Cons

  • Slow Delivery: Although ships can carry much bigger loads than other transportation methods, maritime shipping takes much longer. It is not usually the preferred shipping method for businesses that rely on speedy delivery.

Rail or Train Transportation

Train, Railroad, Transportation, Trail Raffic, Railway

Since the invention of the railway, trains have played an important part in trade and logistics worldwide. Rail transport is ideal for companies who require fast, scheduled ground freight.

Pros

  • Provides Greater Capacity – Trains can transport heavy, bulk cargo over long distances. They can handle more weight than truck transportation.
  • Reliable and Predictable Schedule – Trains would typically operate on a fixed schedule, making them a predictable and reliable form of transportation. Because railroads operate independently, train shipments are often less prone to delays that plague truck freight, like traffic jams or erratic weather.
  • More Eco-Friendly – Although the environmental impact depends on a combination of several different factors, trains tend to be less impactful than trucks, planes, and ships because they require less fuel to operate.

Cons

  • Slow Transit Time – Rail transport is slower than truck and air freight, and they often require multiple transfers throughout the shipment process.
  • Less Accessibility – Not every area has access to railroad tracks, so rail transport almost always requires other forms of transportation to move products. Rail transportation is often combined with truck freight for efficient delivery.

Air Freight

Plane, Globe, Earth, Journey, Vacation, Airplane

If your primary consideration is speed – then air freight is the way to go! Air transport is the newest shipping method, but it is often the best choice for fast uncompromising delivery. Air transport is accessible across most of the world and is ideal for shipments that need to be moved quickly across long distances, including overseas. Air transportation also has a vast scope compared to rail and ship freight. It is an ever-expanding industry with several thousand airports and landing strips in operation across the globe.

Pros

  • Fast Deliveries – Speed is undoubtedly the most vital point of using air transport. Despite the possibility of occasional flight delays, air transport is significantly quicker than ship, truck, or plane delivery under most circumstances. Additionally, airplanes operate on a fixed schedule. This reliability is an asset when arranging shipment, particularly for perishable goods that require speedy or even overnight delivery.
  • Excellent Security – Planes offer this speed with little to no compromise to the quality of the product, providing optimal protection and safe handling due to rigorous flight checkpoints and little interference during flight.

Cons

  • Costly – Air transport is more expensive than truck transport due to the higher fuel cost and additional expenses like tickets, maintenance, checkpoints, special handling fees for certain materials, shipping containers, and more. Trucks are often more economical when ground logistics are an option, and guaranteed quick delivery is not required. For companies who can afford the cost and rely on fast shipments, air transport is ideal.
  • Delivery Limitations – Due to the nature of air transport, there are certain limitations that some companies may find challenging to navigate, including size, weight, and product restrictions. Airplanes have a set weight capacity that they cannot exceed, and many materials are too hazardous to transport via flight.

Using Intermodal Transportation

Logistics, Freight, Cargo, Train, Boat, Railway

Intermodal transportation is when a shipment requires two or more types of freight to reach its final destination. This is typically used with rail and ship transport, requiring trucks to carry shipments from the railway or port. Intermodal transportation is ideal for loads not of immediate value that have to travel a long distance.

In most cases, products remain inside the same shipping container throughout the entire process. In other cases, however, your products might be transferred from one shipping container to another.

Always discuss this with your transportation and logistics provider to make sure you are packaging your products accordingly. You should also keep in mind the different restrictions and requirements across all modes of transportation. For example, just because your shipment fits within rail transportation guidelines does not mean it will qualify for air travel.

Are you looking for speedy and efficient transportation of your goods? Zip Logistics is the only authority and expert you can trust. At Zip Logistics, we provide our clients with hassle-free and on-time freight and parcel shipping solutions. When you ship with Zip Logistics, you have access to an advanced and extensive logistics network with flexible solutions designed to meet your company’s unique transportation needs.  

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