Back in the days of early Mesopotamia, merchants spent countless hours trekking across distant lands to trade their goods.
But long gone is the age of transporting cargo by foot, donkey-powered carts, and sail-winds.
Over the last two hundred years, the trade and transportation industry has evolved, transforming the global economy. Analysts forecast that by 2027, the global logistics market will be worth nearly $13 billion.
With the many different types of freight that exist today, it can be tough to know which is the most effective mode of transportation.
Below I’ve outlined the current freighting options and how you can utilize them to improve your business efficiency.
The Types of Freight Available Today
LTL, ATL, FTL; what does it all mean?
The logistics industry encompasses the movement of goods and resources from one location to another. Though the market can be full of confusing acronyms and terms, they’re essential to know.
Understanding how to ship freight is fundamental to any business practice. Utilizing the proper method can streamline your supply chain process, reducing cost and increasing efficiency.
Whether your goods need to be shipped domestically or internationally, there are transport options for your needs. The industry is alive with possibilities, from smart trucking services for all shipment sizes to expedited services.
Less than truckload shipping is the most widely used method of transporting ground freight. This method is popular for pallet shipments where you don’t have enough pallets to fill an entire truck.
Pallets from one company will then be intermingled with pallets from another. From there, the truck makes multiple stops across the country to deliver the loads to their separate destinations.
LTL shipping is a cost-efficient method for shipping palletized loads. This method is far more effective than shipping parcels individually. And unless you have enough product to fill a truck, this is the cheapest route to go.
Full truckload freight transportation is for transporting entire shipments of goods. This option is great for shipping large amounts of product because you want to utilize as much space in the truck as possible.
With FTL shipping, the entire freight load is devoted to the goods of one business only. Since pallets are not intermixed, a driver can pick the freight up from one location and drive straight through to its destination.
Let’s consider FTL freight the “direct flight” of the trucking world, where there are no layovers or stops along the way. It’s the best option to move bulk freight from point A to point B quickly.
Partial truckload freight is a cross between FTL and LTL freight. This option is for those without enough freight to fill an entire truck, yet too much freight to go LTL.
The number of pallets that can be shipped using a partial truckload ranges from 8 to 18. And these shipments can weigh anywhere between 8,000 and 27,500 pounds.
Since PTL carriers don’t have to stop at multiple terminals to load and unload shipments, – quick turnaround times can occur.
However, rates for PTL freight can fluctuate as the current state of the market determines them. That means you’ll need to factor in the cost of weight, mileage, and the amount of space used.
Often, PTL carriers don’t offer the extra services that LTL carriers do. This can include accessorials such as liftgates and specialized trucks.
Intermodal Rail Freight
Intermodal transport refers to the movement of goods using various modes of transportation. This method includes ships, trains, and trucks.
This method utilizes shipping containers you can fill with any type of good desired. The goods remain securely in a single shipping container throughout the transportation process.
Driver capacity can be limited in the trucking industry. Thus, intermodal transport creates the ability to move more freight using fewer drivers.
This method is beneficial for all parties in the supply chain; manufacturer, transporter, and consumer. It’s one of the cheapest ways to move goods across the world and can be more efficient than using trucks alone.
Ocean freight is the most cost-efficient method of shipping freight internationally. Ocean freighters can carry loads of any size between most locations around the globe.
There are options available for overseas shipping speeds as well. Like trucking freight, two types of shipping containers are available: FCL and LCL. These stand for “full container loads” and “less than container loads.”
Airfreight is freight carried aboard an aircraft, which is one of the fastest transport methods that exist. This method accounts for 35% of the overall value of cargo shipped worldwide.
Many types of goods can be moved by air freight, both domestically and internationally. The two types of air freight services include dedicated freighters and belly capacity.
Belly capacity refers to freight carried on a passenger aircraft. It can sometimes require the goods to be of high density and packed tightly, so long as the cargo can fit into the belly of the plane.
For international shipments, air freight is an excellent alternative to ocean freight if the deadline is urgent. But this option can be more expensive than the other methods.
Expedited freight is ideal for any time-sensitive delivery of goods. Like FTL, expedited servicers set out on a direct course and make no stops en route to their destination.
To expedite freight, you contract a single carrier to handle your cargo and meet your particular deadline.
With this method, goods can arrive at times between one and five days after shipment. As a result, this method is widely used when goods are of an urgent nature.
Get Your Business Moving Today
To choose the most effective freight service for your needs, you should understand your shipment goals. There are various costs and benefits associated with each method and a solution for any circumstance.
Now that you’ve read our essential guide on the different types of freight available – get started on the road to streamlining your business.
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