Types of shipping modes

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When it comes to shipping your goods in the country or overseas, there are a few different ways to do so. You can either transport them via land, air, or sea. That being said, the transport method you choose will depend on what you are exactly shipping, how heavy it is, how much you are shipping, and the cost you are willing to pay to move your goods. Each method will have its advantages and limitations, which we have explained and discussed in this article below. If you are still unsure of what transport method to pick, then you can always call up a shipping company such as Shipco to see which method may be best suited to your needs.

Shipping through sea
When it comes to this mode of transporting cargo, this is usually used for transporting comparatively large quantities of goods. These goods are put on cargo ships and packed in containers, and then transported to their final destination. Almost everything can be shipped through the sea, which is why this mode can be used for various purposes such as commercial and military. However, it is generally not advised for people who need their products to be delivered quickly.

Usually, shippers can choose between two transportation methods for their goods – full container load (FCL) or less than full container load (LCL). FCL refers to a shipper paying to use and fill an entire shipping container exclusively with their shipments, while LCL is the opposite – it is where shippers need to share the container’s space with other people’s goods. While FCL can be expensive upfront, it is a great option for shippers who need to deliver a lot of cargo in one go. On the other hand, while LCL can be cheaper upfront and is great for shippers who may not have a lot of shipments to transport, costs can compound the larger the volume of goods a shipper has to transport.

Shipping by sea is often the transport means of choice for moving and delivering heavy or bulky goods, as well as large quantities of cargo. For most intercontinental trade, there is often no alternative option, meaning sea freight is the most popular shipping method there is. Sea freight also tends to be a lot more cost-effective when compared to other modes of shipping.

Sea freight is also often used to transport hazardous materials (such as anything flammable) or perishable materials (food, medicine, and vaccines, to name a few) that other modes of transport will usually not accept. This makes them suitable for shipping a wide assortment of cargo effectively.

Unfortunately, shipping by sea has a long transport time, when compared to different modes of shipping (such as air and land freight). Sometimes, the time taken to deliver a product is compounded due to waiting times at seaports. In addition, sea freight shipments also depend on further transporting by truck or rail to reach their final destination, meaning the waiting time can take even longer, especially if there are delays in the supply line.

Shipping through air
As its name suggests, this mode of transport uses aircraft to deliver and move goods overseas. There is no doubt that air transport is the fastest mode of shipping. This makes it extremely useful, especially if people need to ship time-sensitive goods. It also does not have to compete with many natural barriers. This means that air freight is the most accessible in all regions regardless of where shippers are based. Air freight services can also deliver most goods, with the exception of heavy and clunky items that may not fit inside an aircraft.

While this mode of transport is generally considered the best shipping mode for perishable goods, it is also the most expensive compared to other modes of transport. Goods that are shipped through air transport are generally categorized under the express shipping category, since shipping by air is faster, and shipments are delivered sooner. As such, shippers can usually expect their packages to be delivered in around one to two days.

As stated previously, air freight can quickly cover long distances, whether in the country or internationally. For this reason, air freight is usually used to carry goods that need quick delivery and which are neither too heavy nor bulky to move.

On the flip side, air freight has one of the lowest transport capacities. It also has the highest freight rates of all kinds of freight. On short-haul routes, air freight’s time advantage is significantly reduced as it is often necessary to reload onto land freight vehicles once the aircraft has reached the airport. Furthermore, airplanes tend to have poor eco-balance, meaning they are less environmentally friendly when transporting goods.

Shipping through land
There is no surprise that land shipping is one of the oldest methods of transporting goods. It is usually used when it comes to transporting and delivering goods within the same region, or across neighbouring countries. In this mode of transport, trucks are generally used to move cargo, as they have larger spaces to ship bulkier items, such as construction materials or automobiles, to name a few. Additionally, this mode of shipping is comparatively cheaper than others. That said, it may wind up taking longer for any goods to reach their final destination. Another way to ship cargo on land is by using railways, or trains. This option may be considered if a business is located near a railway station, which means it may be more convenient to directly load goods onto the train and have them delivered.

Sometimes, it is even possible to combine two different forms of freight, such as trucks and trains, by using intermodal transport. Here, the freight is first loaded into trailers, and then driven to the railway station where it is then loaded onto the train. At its final destination, the trailers are loaded onto another truck before being delivered.

On the whole, shipping by land tends to be more suitable for products that are heavier in size. These can include refrigerators, televisions, ACs, and more.

Most, if not all businesses, are connected to the road network. This easily allows for door-to-door transport, without needing transhipments. Most road infrastructure, especially in developed countries, typically allow for fast and flexible transportation of goods.

It is important to keep in mind that the transport capacity per truck is usually limited in this shipping method. Additionally, when fossil fuels are used to power trucks, carbon, and pollution emissions will occur, meaning road freight may not be an entirely eco-friendly option for users.

While rail freight has a higher transport volume in comparison, and is less prone to disruption and delays, the costs are usually higher too. Moreover, infrastructure is limited when it comes to railways, because the starting points and final destination are often not connected to the rail network directly.

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