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When you’re planning to ship parcels nationally or globally the form of transportation is important. You’ll need to consider how quickly the goods need to reach their destination, the size and weight of these goods, and the costs.

What are the types of merchandise transport? Find out more here…

Types of freight transport

By sea
transporte maritimo de mercancias
Shipping by sea is the most popular option accounting for around 90% of world trade. The advantages cover being able to transport large amounts of raw materials needed for manufacturing as well as heavyweight items. It’s an extremely cost-effective method of shipping but is unsuitable for time-sensitive goods.

This greenest option of all transportation modes is most economical where costs are a deciding factor. Global coverage of countries with port access is optimum, and there’s a vast range of international shipping companies available to choose from.

Cargo ships carry millions of tons of cargo crossing oceans to reach destinations and are the preferred mode of transport for high volume and heavy cargos such as metals and ores. There are multiple carrier options available with liner shipping being the most efficient mode.

By air
transporte aereo de mercancias
Airfreight is fast and efficient and is ideal for perishable goods that need to be moved quickly. Non-stop flights can be performed that cover thousands of miles. This is also the method of transportation that is least likely to suffer from stolen or damaged cargo as airport security is so strict.

There are however limits on weight, and restrictions on hazardous products, with the main disadvantages being the high costs and the impact on the environment. Shipping by air produces a fast transit with less handling of cargo and lower levels of documentation required.

Automotive and retail industries use air freight to achieve “just-in-time” inventory replenishment. This lets production lines and stores place orders on demand – providing greater flexibility and reducing storage costs.

By road
transporte de mercancias por carretera
For short distances to long haul freight trucks can be an ideal option. This method is often used within smaller countries, and for some international routes. Bear in mind that adverse weather or traffic conditions can result in delays with deliveries.

The pros of shipping by road are many including door to door shipping options meaning goods can go direct from producer to distributor or seller, and GPS tracking options allowing you to keep track of goods throughout the journey.

By rail
transporte de mercancias ferrovario
Using widespread networks transportation of cargo by rail is extremely efficient – with most countries having their own railway systems. Trains use less fuel per mile and need only one driver to transport a train with 100 wagons, and is the most cost-effective means of freight transport for distances of over 500 miles.

Advantages of choosing this mode of transportation include all containers being delivered to the same location simultaneously, and as the train emits much less carbon dioxide than a plane it’s also more environmentally-friendly. Other benefits include reliability as trains typically adhere to tight schedules and aren’t impacted by weather or traffic accidents.


Multimodal transportation solutions simply mean that more than one mode of transport is used to get goods from the source to the destination. This combination of rail, road, and sea, for example, allows management of shipments from beginning to end. And goods transport companies often offer discounts and are still able to provide faster transit times.

Sea-Air is another popular option that is less expensive than air freight alone, and faster than by sea. Providing this alternate solution saves the global industry time and cost and is also eco-friendly.

Multimodal transport comes with a range of benefits including:

  • Cargo can be moved to almost any part of the world
  • Delivery options are efficient and cost-effective
  • The distance that goods travel between manufacture and consumer is reduced
  • All modes of transport can be handled with one document

Using a freight forwarder

By employing a freight forwarder to deal with all aspects of transportation and delivery of your goods, you’ll be taking away a great deal of stress. The freight forwarder will take control of getting your shipment from the source to the final destination. This may involve the following:

  • Arranging transport from the factory or warehouse to the port pr airport for shipping
  • Negotiating, booking and loading cargo for air or sea freight
  • Preparing documents and all relevant paperwork for export or import
  • Setting up insurance and tracking facilities
  • Organising haulage and final delivery to the selected location

There are many advantages in using a freight forwarder to handle your transportation modes – the main one being that you only have to deal with one person who will negotiate shipping and haulage on your behalf. With their local connections, you’ll get the best service providers for the most cost-effective price. And you’ll get peace of mind as if something goes wrong, you’ll be advised on how to submit an insurance claim.