Modes of Transportation: Transport & Logistics

Logistics and the transportation of goods are very diverse and complex industries. Shippers rely on overseas shipping, air transportation, and ground delivery to move freight. It involves many shipping modes or different types of transportation and ways of shipping goods. Sometimes, it may be challenging for a company to choose the right mode of transportation to reach the best result. It can be especially difficult if you are new to domestic or global shipping. However, knowing the differences and benefits of each transportation method will help you define the option that will work best for you.

What Are The Modes Of Transportation In Logistics?

There are various forms of transportation, but when it comes to freight shipping, there are several main transportation methods in the freight industry:

● Ocean

● Air

● Rail

● Road

● Intermodal and Multimodal

Types of Transportation: Why Are They Important?

All of these modes of transport are extremely important and play a significant role in the industry. However, there are many differences in terms of price, shipped commodities, transit distance, etc. While some modes may be the perfect solution to one business, they may also be absolutely useless to another business.

Ocean shipping

Ocean shipping is the most popular way of moving large volumes of goods overseas. Compared to air, the ocean is a much more cost-efficient option but is also a rather slow option. This mode of transportation works best for shippers who need to move goods on a distance longer than 400 km. Also, it works for oversized, hazardous, liquids, and weird-shaped freight. Ocean shipping is common among large and mid-sized businesses because they need global shipping on a regular basis. The freight is stacked in containers that are later loaded onto the ships or barges.

Air shipping

Probably the fanciest shipping mode, air transport is a reliable and extremely quick way to ship freight. Obviously, extraordinary speed comes at a higher price. Because of its larger cost, air transport is mostly used by bigger companies, but small businesses often use it too. This option is the perfect solution for retail companies and light industries. Essentially, there are specialized aircraft for hefty cargo but in general, planes are not developed for handling oversized freight of unusual shape.

Trucking (Over-the-Road Shipping)

Over-the-road transportation is the most popular, the most frequently used, and the most in-demand mode of transportation. It works for everyone, from individual shippers to large enterprises. Also, road transport comes with a wide variety of equipment and shipping modes. There are two main types of over-the-road transportation: full truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL). FTL shipping means that one shipper takes the entire truck capacity to move the freight. LTL shipping means several shippers share partial use of the trailer. There are also various types of trailers that serve different shipping needs: dry van, flatbed, refrigerated, etc. It is easy to get a freight quote from the carrier and choose the needed equipment.


Rail transportation plays a crucial role in intermodal shipments and is cheaper and more eco-friendly than over-the-road shipping. Rail is best used for pre-planned long-hauls, and moving from OTR to rail could benefit your supply chain in several ways. Significant investments in intermodal transportation in recent decades have made it more reliable, cost-effective, and service-oriented. Rail freight rates are flexible and much lower than truck rates. Due to the large volume of goods being moved, the price per load is low. Also, rail transport doesn’t make frequent stops and uses a minimum of fuel.

Intermodal and Multimodal Transport

Choosing the right mode of transportation may be difficult, especially if you have a long and complicated route. Intermodal and multimodal transportation solve this problem, as they are two types of combination transportation modes. Generally, intermodal and multimodal shipping suggest the combination of road, rail, ocean, or air for a single shipment. The only difference between both methods is that intermodal is handled under a single bill, while multimodal goes with separate bills from all the carriers involved. Generally, intermodal and multimodal can be very beneficial to the shipper in terms of price and flexibility.

Ultimately, each mode of transportation has its advantages and drawbacks. Depending on the size and needs of your business, you have a variety of options to choose from.

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