In international trade, choosing the appropriate mode of transportation can make the difference between the success and failure of a business. When choosing between trucks, trains, ships and planes, the cheapest way needn’t always be the best way. There are situations when using the most expensive transport – by air actually makes the total landed costs lower. The final choice depends largely on the assessment of business needs and benefits each method affords.
Shipping by road
Maybe the most popular method of shipping around the world, shipping by truck is a universal method. Even if you ship by sea or air, trucks deliver cargo from the port of arrival to their final destination. The size of your shipment determines if you need less-than-truckload (LTL) or truckload (TL) freight. Beyond 15,000 pounds, the shipment is usually classified as truckload weight. It is always more economical to load the shipment into a single motor carrier unit instead of mixing it with other shipments and reloading into several different vehicles along the way.
Shipping by rail
This method is ideal for shipping bulk loads over large distances. Transport by rail often includes a trans-shipment cost as many shipments brought by rail need to be transferred to cargo ships, trucks or planes. By definition, rail transport is cheaper than road transport, although less flexible. It excels in shipping bulk commodity item like ore or grain, as specialized freight cars allow bulk products to be poured. Reefer cars are suitable for perishable goods like food and drink, while liquid freight can be stored in tank cars. If your business is located close to a railway depot, use the advantage of this affordable shipping method whenever you can.
Shipping by air
When speed is the issue, there is no better option than a cargo plane. It also comes with advantages like inexpensive warehousing, lower insurance and tighter inventory control. However, the cost and the availability of airports close to the points of departure and arrival limit its widespread use. The cost of air shipping depends on the cargo weight and how quickly you need it to arrive. Most air shipping companies can accommodate heavy freight and have no size limits. Services like tracking goods allow you to follow the status of your cargo from departure to arrival.
Shipping by sea
The bulk of international shipping is done by sea. For large shipments that don’t require fast delivery, there is no more economical option, as there is a large variety of specialized freight ships. Depending on weather and sea conditions, it takes from 10 to 12 days for goods to move from a European port to the U.S. east coast, although transit times are eventually determined by the specific port locations.
Universal shipping containers
Regardless of the mode of transport, cargo containers now dominate the shipping routes. Freight is packed securely and then loaded into shipping containers. They are suitable for quick transition from different types of vehicles in the transport chain. As with cargo ships, there are many types of containers – dry storage, flat rack, open top, open side, refrigerated, half-height, tank and many more. There are even companies which specialize in new or used containers with depots in main cities across Australia, such as Sea Container Sales and Hire.
Every mode of cargo transport comes with its set of advantages. Factors like distance, geography, the type of goods and deadlines determine the most appropriate method. Most shipping routes require cargo to change more than one mode of transport. This makes shipping containers extremely useful as they offer the quickest and safest transition from one carrier to another.