What is Freight Transport?

Malcolm Tatum

Freight transportation is the process of conveying different types of goods from one point to another using a variety of transport modes. The transport of freight can involve road solutions, air deliveries and even the use of waterways to move the freight from a point of origin to a destination. Here are some examples of the different incarnations of freight transport and what types of goods may be moved using these solutions.

Water freight transportation uses containers to ship goods between locations.
Water freight transportation uses containers to ship goods between locations.

One of the more common modes of freight transportation involves moving the goods over land. There are two common means of accomplishing effective land-based freight transport. One solution is to use long haul or short haul trucking firms to transport the goods. This approach involves contracting with a trucking company to pick up, transport, and deliver the goods to a specific location. Many businesses routinely use this solution to receive raw materials needed for production, as well as deliver finished goods to buyers.

Barges are primarily used on lakes and rivers.
Barges are primarily used on lakes and rivers.

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A second land freight solution is the use of rail freight transport. This solution involves the use of railways to move goods. Freight cars or detachable containers are loaded with the goods, then moved through a network or railways until arriving at their destination. It is not unusual for shippers to use a combination of trucks and rail services in order to manage dependable road freight transport.

Freight may be transported by semi-trucks.
Freight may be transported by semi-trucks.

In addition to land solutions, freight transport is sometimes achieved by the use of waterways. With water freight transport, containers are filled with goods to be moved to a new location. The containers are stacked and secured in place, helping to minimize the potential for shifting during the transport process. The ship or barge then makes use of rivers, lakes, or even the ocean to deliver the products to a point of destination. Water freight transportation is often a viable and cost effective solution when delivering goods to locations far removed from the manufacturer or seller of the goods.

Air freight options are another example of effective freight transport. This solution is often viable when goods must be delivered without delay. While air freight is often faster, it can often be the most expensive of all freight transport options. However, the cost is often offset by preventing any temporary shutdowns in production or missing a sale due to an inability to provide the sold goods to a buyer within an acceptable time frame.

It is not unusual for freight transportation services to make use of more than one option to manage the timely and effective transportation of freight. Goods may be moved by truck or rail to a seaport, where they are then loaded onto a ship or barge and transported to a remote location. At the receiving port, the goods are loaded into a rail car or container and transported over land to the final destination. For extremely remote locations, air freight may also be used to move the good to the point of termination. Many transportation services either provide all of these services or have working agreements with other freight transport providers to manage the successful shipment and delivery of different types of freight.

Freight transport includes moving goods from one place to another, often by sea or air.
Freight transport includes moving goods from one place to another, often by sea or air.

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Discussion Comments


The company that I previously worked for deal with both sea and air freight shipping. In recent times I think sea freight shipping is becoming more popular than air shipping, due to the fact it is less expensive.


How many companies think about the environmental costs, as well as the financial outlay, when looking at freight quotes?

Coming from a social history educational background I'd like to see more attention given to intermodal freight transportation. The less we use water and road the harder it will be to keep these options available.

I'd like to see some kind of incentive system offered to help promote alternatives to airplanes as the ultimate freight carrier. Or even a penalty system for those who have the biggest carbon footprints!


@Feint - I think that approach makes a lot of sense. If the customers are aware of the freight shipping rates from the start they can make their own decision. There would need to be some flexibility though, as not all of these methods are going to be convenient.


The company I used to work for would only use air freight transportation as a last resort due to the high costs involved (unless the customer had specifically requested it and was paying for it of course).

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