The term “freight” is used to describe the transportation of bulk goods, or cargo, via road, rail, air or sea generally for commercial gain. The term was originally used for goods being transported by ship, boat or aircraft, but is commonly used today to cover all types of freight movement, including truck, van, train or inter-modal containers. Individual preference, other influences and pressures, such as deadlines will dictate the type of transport that is used when shipping goods worldwide.
Seaport terminals throughout the world handle a wide range of maritime cargo some these include:
- Bulk cargo – This type of cargo is usually defined as cargo that is neither in containers, or on pallets. Materials that are transported this way would include such things as scrap metal, oil and salt. These types of goods will often be craned on a vessel and stored in the hold.
- Break Bulk Cargo – This is the more obvious type of cargo you would expect to be transported via sea freight. This type of cargo is typically stacked on pallets and using cranes is lifted in and out of the hold. Since containerization has grown globally the volume of break bulk cargo has declined dramatically.
- Containers – Containers are the most popular and cost effective method of sea freight transportation being used today. Containers range in sizes from 20ft to 45ft and can accommodate the transport all types of cargo from food stuffs to toys. Year after year more freight is transported this way due to its affordability and relative reliability.
- Project Cargo – Project cargo is generally heavy freight such as wind turbines and large scale military vehicles. Project cargo is usually freight too large or heavy to fit inside a container.
Air freight is another type of freight transportation that is becoming very popular due to its speed and reliability. Airfreight aircraft were initially used to transport mail in the early 1900’s. More recently, manufacturers have designed larger and more specialised aircraft to carry other commodities.
Some of the more popular aircraft used in air freight include the Boeing 747 and the bigger An-124. Large aircraft such as this employ quick loading containers known as unit load devices (ULDs).
Road freight is probably the most well-known type of freight transportation. Road freight vehicles include the larger 13.6m curtain sided trailers, super-cube container lorries to small express vans. Depending on the requirement there is a whole range of vehicles that can aid people in transporting cargo throughout the world using road networks.
Although road freight is regulated by road laws it is still deemed one of the quickest and most cost effective ways of transporting cargo. Companies such as DHL and Fedex use the worldwide road network to provide next day and same day deliveries to their customers. Groupage networks also exist. These harness networks of depot and transport hubs throughout the world, consolidating goods for delivery to specific regions.