Transportation is the key part of distributing goods to your clients, but knowing how to choose your perfect mode of transport will help you make sure that your products arrive on time and at the right cost. There are three possible choices: shipping by land, sea, or air, and your decision will depend on a thorough evaluation of business needs, as well as comparing the benefits of each shipping method.

Shipping by Air

When it comes to time efficiency, nothing beats shipping by air, but this isn’t the only benefit here. Lower insurance, inexpensive warehousing and tight inventory control are the other main advantages of sending your product(s) via airplane. However, quite logically, airfreight is without a doubt the most expensive shipping method available. Additionally, it has limitations in terms of availability of major airports in the proximity of the points of departure/arrival.

The cost of shipping by air is determined by the weight of your cargo and how quickly it needs to arrive. That’s why very heavy, time-sensitive items will set you back a lot. Depending on the size of your shipment, some shipping companies will offer pick-up services, but others will hold you responsible for every part of the transport.

Another innovative, smart thing about airfreight is the fact that many modern companies will give you the opportunity to track goods, via web-based technology.

Shipping by air should be used for up to medium-sized shipments that need to meet a delivery deadline.

Shipping by Sea

This kind of shipment is reserved mostly for international exports – large shipments that don’t require a fast delivery. This is the most economical shipping option and you can rest assured that your product will be safe onboard, given the fact that there is a huge variety of specialized ships that can accommodate either bulk commodities, perishable items, dry goods, liquids, etc.

Containerization is the dominant sea shipping method – the containers allow your product to be quickly loaded between various types of transport options (truck to ship and vice-versa). Of course, quality storage options are always preferable, so opting for a company like Sea Containers that specializes in this kind of transportation is definitely the smartest way to go.

Depending on specific port locations, transit times tend to vary. For example, a Europe – US sea shipment takes 10-12 days, although this depends on nautical and weather conditions.

If you need to ship in large bulks and your shipments aren’t time-sensitive, shipping by sea is your best bet.

Shipping by Land

Shipping by land is most often an unavoidable part of the intermodal transportation chain and it is done either by rail or by truck.

Shipping via rail is usually used as the part of the intermodal chain for bringing products to a port for international export, or from ports to other parts of the chain. While cheaper than other modes of transport, freight trains are obviously quite limited, as they need to stick to rail; so, where there is no railway, another mode of transport has to take over.

Trucks, on the other hand, are a worldwide-used method of freight transport, but here, speed and quality of service do tend to decline outside of industrialized zones. However, whatever other form of transport you choose, you cannot avoid the fact that a truck is going to take over at some point. With truck shipping, the size of your shipment will determine whether you’ll need less-than-truckload, or truckload freight (LTL and TL, respectively). The former is used for smaller orders and it makes up the majority of freight shipments. Its average capacity is at about 1,200 pounds, although the LTL freight can range from 100 to 15,000 pounds. Truckload freight is used for everything above 15,000 pounds.

There is no single best transport method when it comes to shipping. Shipments that require a timely delivery and aren’t too big in size are best sent via air, while ships are a significantly cheaper alternative, generally used for shipping in large bulks. Finally, transport by land is usually entirely unavoidable.

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