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A Guide to the Best Types of Cargo and Freight Transportation

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Updated on 03 Aug 20223 min read

When transporting your goods and moving them from one place to another, you have a selection of freight movement options you can choose from. There’s ocean freight, air freight, rail transport, road transport, or multimodal transport. Which one you should choose would depend on a variety of things, such as the nature of your goods, their weight, and size, etc.

In this article, we dive deep into each freight movement type to help you determine what’s best for your shipment.

Ocean Freight

Cargo ship to represent ocean freight with Shipa Freight

Ocean freight is one of the most commonly used freight movement options, along with air freight. 90% of global trade is transported by sea. The reason that ocean freight is selected by so many shippers is because of its versatility in handling any type of cargo, regardless of nature, size, or weight.

Ocean freight gives shippers an economical option to ship large, bulky, and oversized goods without having to worry about the size and volume of the goods being an issue. Some of the most common commodities transported by sea include:

  • Agri-products
  • Coal
  • Engines
  • Iron ore
  • Metals
  • Minerals
  • Petroleum
  • Steel products

On the plus side, ocean freight is also a more environmentally shipping option, emitting lower gases and reducing the negative environmental impact of the logistics industry.

Benefits of Ocean Freight

  • Can accommodate any goods, regardless of nature
  • Suitable for large, heavy, and oversized cargo
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Efficient and economical
  • Routes to almost all countries around the world
  • Multiple shipping options and services

Air Freight

Airplane to represent air freight shipping with Shipa Freight

If you’re looking for a faster mode of shipping small and light cargo, air freight is a viable option. Airfreight traffic is growing at a fast pace, with the demand for higher-value goods rising steadily.

The characteristics of air freight rest on speed. This mode of transport is used by manufacturers and companies to transport cargo that is urgently needed in the destination country, enabling them to fulfill rush orders or the increased demand.

Because of this, air freight is best for cargo that requires speedy transport and is most advantageous for perishable and delicate goods. Goods that are transported by air also experience less handling, which mitigates the risk of damage and loss.

Compared to ocean freight, however, air freight can be expensive and has more size and weight limitations. Hence, it may not be ideal for large and bulky goods.

Benefits of Air Freight

  • Speedy transport
  • Little to no handling and cargo movement prior to transit
  • Fewer documentations and paperwork required
  • Reliable transit time
  • More cargo security

Multimodal Transport

Container stacked to represent multi-modal transportation with Shipa Freight

Multimodal transport consists of using more than one type of freight movement in one shipment. Commonly, it combines the use of road transport to move cargo to the port of origin where the goods will be shipped by sea and then picked up again by a car or transported by train. Some shippers combine both sea and air freight to achieve a quicker shipment.

Multimodal transport helps mitigate demurrage fees, making it a solution for special types of shippers. However, for others, it may be necessary because of the lack of point-to-point shipping options in their area.

Benefits of Multimodal Transport

  • Wide global coverage
  • Reduces the distance traveled by one mode of transport
  • One document is needed across all modes of transport
  • May be efficient and economical

Which Type of Freight Movement is Right for You?

Each type of freight movement comes with its benefits, as well as limitations. Which is right for you would depend on your unique situation. Take into consideration your own priorities, as well as the characteristics of the goods you are shipping. Note the size and weight limitations of each mode of transport, the nature of goods that they allow, and other factors like your budget, timeline, etc.

A freight forwarder can suggest a viable freight movement type for your specific needs.

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