Modes of Transportation Explained: Which Type of Cargo and Freight Transportation is Best?

Modes of Transportation Explained: Which Type of Cargo and Freight Transportation is Best?

Read Time: 4 min.

There are several modes of transportation used for cargo and freight, each with unique benefits and use-cases.

Choosing the right mode of transport is vital to your profitability, whereas the wrong choice could cost you time, money, and a lot of extra aggravation that could have been avoided.

What Mode of Transportation is Right for Your Shipment?

Let’s look at the most common types of freight transportation, how they differ, and some tips to help you make the best decision based on what you are shipping, where it comes from, and its final destination.

1. Road.

The most common types of freight transport, road shipping is available in most countries. It is a cost-effective way to ship, and it can be used for long-haul or short-haul domestic or cross-border deliveries. Road shipping is especially advantageous for scheduled deliveries in rural areas that do not have access to rail or air depots. 

Other advantages include:

  • Save on packaging costs
  • Ability to track and trace both your shipment and the vehicle it’s on
  • Door-to-door service

2. Ocean

Ninety percent of global shipping is done over the ocean. For large equipment or container loads, there is no other way to ship economically. If size and weight prevent you from shipping by other methods, ocean freight is the answer. It might be slow, but for some cargo, there is no other option.

Ocean shipping is suitable for:

  • Large, heavy items or bulk goods
  • High-volume, heavy cargo
  • Any high-capacity need

3. Air.

Air cargo is by far the fastest shipping method. However, it is also the most expensive, especially if your shipment is heavy or bulky. 

Airfreight advantages:

  • Enables just-in-time (on-demand) inventory
  • Good for perishable goods like flowers and food
  • Less handling, therefore good for fragile items
  • Reliable arrival times for time-sensitive deliveries
  • Heightened security for valuable shipments

Airfreight disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • Size and weight limits

·  Restrictions on what you can and cannot ship (hazardous goods)

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4. Rail.

Rail is a fast and efficient mode of ground transport. However, it generally ends up being a multi-modal delivery as the cargo will need to be transferred to a truck on arrival, which will incur extra costs. 

Rail advantages:

  • Good for containerized shipments
  • Can accommodate large or heavy equipment and bulk
  • Faster than over-the-road transport
  • Higher capacity than trucks
  • Excellent safety ratings
  • Keeps vehicles off the roads

5. Multi-Modal.

Multi-modal shipping is a way for companies to keep costs down by using more than one mode of transport. Compared to straight-up air freight, you can save up to 65 percent on costs while improving delivery times.

Multi-mode advantages:

  • Reaches anywhere in the world
  • Ship cargo using a single document
  • Efficient, agile, and cost-effective 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, you have many options for transporting goods, and there isn’t a single solution that answers all your needs. Each mode has its advantages and disadvantages, but knowing each one’s attributes will help you stay on top.

Prioritizing your needs, understanding your cargo, and comparing costs during the planning phase will help you achieve greater value and keep your customers coming back.

DTS World Cargo Services is a trusted ally and advisor, and we’re here to help you determine the best shipping methods for your needs. Reach out today to request a quote.