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Transport in the Global Supply Chain – Part 1

The logistics of moving freight around the world to fulfill the global supply chain is a complex and difficult problem to solve. Many modes of transportation are needed to shift goods from one place to another, and the chain relies heavily on the management of how to get parts, raw materials, and finished goods from one country to another. Carrying goods around the world is not an easy thing to do, and the transport resources are the key to the whole operation. You need to find the correct types of transport and containers so that you can move goods efficiently, safely, cost effectively, and on time. Here are the key modes of transportation used in the global supply chain.

Shipping Containers

The most cost-effective way of transporting goods around the world is by sea and the shipping container has revolutionized how goods are transported around the globe. Today, containers are critical to the modern supply chain and an integral part of it. Containers are ideal for moving between different modes of transport, including trucks, railcars, ships and various other modes of transport. There are standard sizes of containers that will fit any mode of transportation and the goods are secure inside. By standardizing the size and shape of containers it means that they work on a common framework used by every port and depot in the world. This makes unloading and loading really easy and makes the container the perfect resource that can operate across multiple modes of transport. Containerization has also improved the security of moving goods as well as being more efficient. 

Shipping Containers
Shipping Containers

Trucks

Transporting goods on the roads and highways of the world is probably the oldest way of sending goods from one place to another. And for thousands of years carts, horses, camels and other road transportation means have taken goods across boundaries successfully but slowly. Today, the truck is the workhorse of the global supply chain. And moving goods overland there really is only two alternatives, and that is by road or by rail. Most modern trucks have specially designed chassis that are perfect for containers. Trucks are the most common way to transport goods in the supply chain, they take goods from the long-haul depots of ports and airports and take them to their precise destination or a distribution hub. In essence, trucks can get to places that the other modes of transportation in the supply chain cannot. Railways are restricted where their tracks can take them, and planes are the most expensive way of transporting goods from A to B. In the United States, trucks move more freight than water, air and rail combined and can move goods quickly and cheaply if fitted with a chassis.

Trucks
Trucks

You can see that the different transportation modes of moving goods from A to B throw up all sorts of logistical problems. Any logistics manager has to balance speed against cost, and to plan the route of transporting goods carefully so the different modes of transportation interact efficiently with each other.