How to choose the right mode of transport for your goods

The type of transportation of your goods to the destination depends on a number of factors:

  • The products you sell (e.g. perishables or non-perishables)
  • Supplier production lead times
  • Product availability
  • Source of supply (e.g. China or others)
  • Customs and Excise rules (e.g. duty or quarantine)
  • Volume

You can use one method for all your transportation needs or a combination. Here are the main types of transportation, and their advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Air Transportation

This mode of transport is useful for delivery products with short lead times, fragile and small-size goods. The bulk/value ratio will be a determining factor.



Advantages of the Air Transportation:

  • Fast delivery
  • Variety of destinations
  • High level of reliability and safety
  • Tracking of cargo location
  • Delivery of small-size cargo

Disadvantages of the Air Transportation:

  • Flight delays and/or cancellations
  • Customs and Excise/size/weight/packing restrictions
  • High air freight rates
  1. Sea Transportation:

Mainly sea transportation is conducted in containers which vary in size. Goods can be delivered as grouped cargo into a container (LCL) or as full-container load shipment (FCL).




Advantages of the Sea Transportation:

  • High level of safety
  • The cheapest cost of transport
  • Easy to reload on any mode of transport
  • Long distance delivery, including remote and hard-to-reach places
  • Variety of destinations
  • Ideal for transportation of heavy, bulky and oversized cargo
  • Suitable for products with long lead times
  • Flow capacity of shipping lines without any restrictions, except for ports opportunities

Disadvantages of the Sea Transportation:

  • Longer lead/delivery times
  • Season surcharges
  • Frequent (monthly) changes in ocean freight rates by shipping lines
  • Deadlines of drop-off
  • Short navigation period for North regions
  1. Rail Transportation:

Rail transportation is useful for the delivery of a wide range of goods including coal, steel and other heavy goods.




Advantages of the Rail Transportation:

  • Longer lead/delivery times
  • Cost-effective
  • High level of safety and reliability

Disadvantages of the Rail Transportation:

  • Suppliers/customers are not always located near a railroad freight depot and delivery to/from the depot can be costly and time consuming
  1. Road Transportation:

A very popular mode of transport to deliver cargo. Goods can be packed/grouped in box, vans or in containers which are also used for sea transportation.




Advantages of the Road Transportation:

  • Cost-effective, especially for LCL shipments
  • Fast delivery
  • Variety of destinations
  • High level of safety and reliability
  • Ideal for short distances of the delivery of small consignment cargo
  • Easy to monitor location of goods

Disadvantages of the Road Transportation:

  • Transport subject to traffic delays
  • Restrictions during the delivery of LCL cargo, which require special temperature conditions
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Longer delivery of LCL cargo
  1. Multimodal transportation:

Multimodal transportation (also known as combined transportation) is a delivery of goods under a single contract, but performed with two different means of transport at least (sea, rail, road and air), using of a various transport infrastructure (terminals, warehouses for consolidation, ports, airports). For multimodal transportation there is only one company-carrier which is responsible for the organization of transportation from the beginning to the end.

Advantages of the multimodal transportation:

  • Faster transit of goods
  • Cost-effective
  • Long distance delivery, including remote and hard-to-reach places
  • Variety of destinations
  • Advantages of all types of transportation
  • One agent is responsible for the delivery by all means of transport

Disadvantages of the multimodal transportation:

  • More reloadings and risks related to reloadings.

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Package Markings and Symbols

Usually represented by a shattered stemmed glass, the fragile icon is one of the most familiar shipping symbols. It is used to indicate that the product inside the package is fragile and can be easily damaged and, thus, needs to be handled with utmost care.

The thermometer symbol indicates that the item inside the box is temperature sensitive. The mark usually indicates the temperature at which the product should be stored. This symbol is generally found on packages that contain perishable items such as food and medicines.

Right Side Up
Commonly represented by two arrows pointing up, this sign defines which side of the package should face upward, so that the product inside is in the upright position during transit and handling thereby preventing damage.

Handle With Care
Usually rendered with a pair of hands cradling a box, the Handle With Care symbol also conveys that the package is delicate and requires careful handling.

The umbrella symbol denotes that the package contain items that must not be exposed to water or moisture. This sign is usually found on packages containing electronic devices, clothing and goods that corrode easily.