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Ask Your Logistics Experts… How Should I Ship My Material?

Q: How Should I Ship My Material?

A: There are many factors that come into play when choosing the right mode of transport for your freight:
    Where is the freight picking up from and delivering to?  
    How much does the shipment weigh?  
    What are the freight’s dimensions?  
    Is the freight hazardous?  
    When will the shipment be ready and when is it needed by the receiver? 

By Land: If the cargo weighs more than 15,000 pounds and is shipping within the same continent at a reasonable distance, it will most likely need to move as a Full Truckload (FT).  Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) and Rail are good options for cargo less than 15,000 pounds that is moving within the same continent. The costs can be competitive, but infrastructure and transit time are the key things to keep in mind.
Another important thing to think about is transit time. A good rule of thumb to use for most USA carriers is that cargo will move roughly 500 miles per day.  If the shipment needs to move faster, then expedited carriers or team drivers could help shorten transit time; however, these may not be options if the cargo is a ‘permitted load’ (over-dimensional or over-weight).   Expedited services and team drivers will also add quite a bit to your overall transport cost.   

By Air: Air is a great option when the shipment is urgent and has to travel great distances. Keep in mind that your freight is very likely to “fly” with other freight and people.  It cannot be excessively heavy, large, or contain certain types of hazardous materials. For a “standard” commercial plane (carrying passengers and cargo), cargo dimensions need to be within 125 feet long by 96 feet wide by 64 feet high. There are also limits to the weight.  

In addition, when utilizing a commercial plane in the USA, passengers take precedence. The next priority is cargo from the U.S. Postal Service, with last   priority being paid cargo.  This means unless you pay for guaranteed service, your cargo could be bumped if on a full flight.  
In general, air transport will be more expensive than ground transport. 

By Sea: Ocean is usually the best option when a longer transit time is acceptable and saving money is important. Ocean shipments will tend to always be the most cost effective; in addition, if a shipment is very large or heavy, ocean transport may be the only option. 
A standard container on a shipping vessel is 20 feet or 40 feet long and can handle between 38,000 and 44,000 pounds. When using these containers, additional time and costs for unloading should be considered. 

For cargo that does not need its own container, there is always the option to book as Less-Than-Container-Load (LCL), which would only require the shipper to pay for the utilized space. Cargo can also ship as “Break Bulk” if, due to size, it can not fit in any standard container types.  

It is very important when considering sea transport to make sure your cargo is packaged properly to withstand the conditions of ocean transport.

Knowing the rate of frequency and amount of volume your company is planning to ship can help you plan the correct transport and negotiate reduced, competitive rates. Do not underestimate your purchasing power!

If you need help with analyzing transport modes, negotiating rates or setting up transports, please contact us at:


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