When it comes to choosing the best mode of transportation for your supply chain, there are a lot of factors to consider. And as with anything in life and business, each option has its own set of pros and cons that you’ll need to weigh before making a decision.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the most common modes of transportation used in logistics and outline the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
By the end, you should have a better understanding of which option is best for your business. Scroll down to read more.
The 7 modes of transportation
- Air transportation or air transport
- Rail transportation (passenger and freight)
- Ship transport (also known as maritime shipping or maritime transportation)
- Road transport or truck load
- Water transport (barges and canals)
- Intermodal transportation (a combination of road transportation and freight trains)
- Multimodal transport (a combination of multiple modes of transportation methods)
What are the different modes of transport in logistics?
There are four main modes of transport in logistics: truck, ship, train, and air, and the best option for a particular shipment will depend on a number of factors.
Trucks are the most versatile mode of transport, as they can be used for shipments of all sizes and types. However, trucking is also the most expensive option, and it can be subject to delays due to traffic or inclement weather conditions.
Ships are best suited for large shipments and international trade that needs to be transported over long distances. Maritime transport is relatively slow but cost-effective.
Trains are an efficient and environmentally friendly option for shipping freight that needs to be transported over long distances, typically 1000+ km or 750 miles. Rail transport is also fast and reliable, but it can be expensive and routes are limited. In addition, train schedules can be inflexible, which can make it difficult to coordinate shipments.
Industries shipping large volumes or requiring the movement of heavy goods preferably use railway and road transportation (also known as intermodal transportation) as well as shipping by sea over other modes. This method can accommodate larger materials thus becoming an ideal alternative to air travel which is better suited for parcel shipping and small packages.
Air freight is the fastest of the transport modes but also the most expensive. It’s best suited for shipments that are time-sensitive or need to be delivered to remote locations where trains and transport cars are unable to service.
Now that we’ve gone over the different modes of transportation, let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
Benefits and drawbacks of truck transportation
Truck transportation is the most popular mode of transport in North America, as it offers a number of advantages, including:
-Trucks can transport shipments of all sizes and types.
-Trucking is a door-to-door service, which means your shipment will be delivered directly to the recipient’s location.
-Trucking is relatively fast and provides a high degree of flexibility when it comes to delivery times.
-Trucks can transport shipments to and from remote locations that are not serviced by other modes of transport.
However, trucking also has a few drawbacks, including:
-With gas and petrol prices at an all-time high, trucking is an expensive mode of transport.
-Trucking can be subject to travel restrictions and delays due to traffic or weather conditions.
Benefits and drawbacks of rail transportation
Rail transportation is a fast and efficient way to move freight, and it offers a number of advantages, including:
-Rail transport is faster and more cost-effective than trucking, making it ideal for long-distance shipments.
-Rail transport is more energy-efficient which makes it better for the environment.
-Rail transport is more reliable and predictable than trucking, as trains run on set schedules.
Of course, rail transportation also has a few drawbacks, including:
-Rail transport can be more expensive than trucking.
-The routes for rail transport are limited, which can make it difficult to coordinate shipments.
-Train schedules can be inflexible
Benefits and drawbacks of maritime transportation
Maritime transportation is a slow but cost-effective way to move freight, and it offers a number of advantages, including:
-Maritime transport is the most economical option for shipping large volumes of freight.
-Maritime transport is less likely to be affected by weather conditions than other modes of transport.
Drawbacks of maritime shipping include:
-Maritime transport is relatively slow, which can make it unsuitable for time-sensitive shipments.
-Cargo ships are subject to travel restrictions.
-The routes for maritime transport are limited, which can make it difficult to coordinate frequent shipments.
Benefits and drawbacks of air transportation
Air transportation is the fastest way to move freight internationally, and it offers a number of advantages, including:
-Air transport is the fastest option for freight transportation.
-Air cargo is less likely to be affected by weather conditions than other transportation modes.
-Air shipping is ideal for time-sensitive shipments.
Air transportation drawbacks:
-Air transport is the most expensive of freight transport.
-Air transport is subject to travel restrictions and delays due to air traffic control and passenger planes.
How to Choose the Best Type of Logistics Transportation for Your Company?
There are a few factors you should take into account when deciding what type of transportation is best for your company, including:
-The type of goods you need to ship.
-Your shipping budget.
-The time frame for delivery.
-The distance of the shipment.
-Whether or not you need door-to-door service.
-The frequency of shipments.
Weighing all of these factors will help you decide which mode or combination of modes, of transportation is best suited for your company’s needs.
In our next update, we’ll investigate how and when to use which transportation mode.
Ready to get started with intermodal transport? At RailGateway, we make it simple to find the right mode and carrier for your freight and our competitive pricing guarantees you the best rate for your shipment. Get started today with a free rail quote.