The 4 Types of Logistics Transport – What’s Right for You?

If you run any type of business besides those dealing in intangible products like software, then you’re going to have to consider logistics and the four main transport types. Even if you run a local grocery store serving only local produce to a small local customer base, you will still need to have your goods delivered. Everything from the cost of shipment to security concerns still apply.

The four main types of planning transport are shipments by road vehicle, train, ship, or plane. Or, to use more industry standard terms, road, maritime, rail, and air. Furthermore, most businesses will need to find out which mode, or combination of modes, is right for them.

Preferred Shipping, a DHL express reseller out of Sugar Land, Texas, says that not only does each mode have its own unique advantages, but there are an endless number of shipment processes that will utilize more than one of the four types of transport. In fact, several factors, such as the rise of ecommerce and the increasingly globalized economy, have meant that the combined approach is actually far more common today than the single mode approach.

Breaking Down the Journey

Accordingly, the issue becomes selecting not the mode of transport that is right for your business, but the mode of transport that is right for each stage of your shipment process. Breaking things down like this is the only way to come up with a solid shipment infrastructure.

Naturally, it will be the bulk shipments – usually referred to as freight – that will be the most complex to organize. This is simply because any given air freight shipment, for example, is likely to share air transport with various others. So, the situation can soon become needlessly complex if this is not carefully planned.

The Advantages of Each Transport Type

So, the first thing to do is to become aware of the relative advantages of each transport mode before working out which is best for your cargo’s journey.


To fully appreciate the continuing importance of road freight, it’s worth considering that it accounts for 54% of all freight that passes between the U.S. and Canada. This indicates that, for continental shipments, it is often the sole method (and the same is true of continental Europe). Advantages include fewer restrictions and less cost compared to air and maritime.


Maritime transport accounts for a whopping 90% of the world’s trade economy, and it is testament to the extent of the global economy that all that trade is international. Indeed, global freight is best suited to maritime transport, simply on account of the massive amount of space and weight that can be accommodated, the lower costs compared to air, and the better security offered thanks to the set routes that maritime cargo follows,


Rail is ideal for companies that require fast and tightly scheduled ground freight. Again, it is best suited to continental shipments, but it plays its part in global shipments too. Normally, very heavy objects such as vehicles or bulk shipments of commodities such as coal, go by rail.


Air freight is all about speed, and it is the best way to send large bulk shipments (though not as large as maritime or rail) around the world to a tight schedule. There are over 15,000 airports in the world, and only round 5,000 of those are for passenger travel. Therefore, air freight has a massive scope.

This introduction to the four modes of transport is only the beginning of any logistics plan. By combining them effectively, you can meet the transport needs of any business, be that speed, bulk, or scope.

Sudarsan Chakraborty
Sudarsan Chakraborty
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