What is the means of transport that best suits each type of merchandise?

What is the means of transport that best suits each type of merchandise?

Means of transport by type of merchandise

In the transport and logistics sector there are different types of merchandise which can be classified by their place of origin, their nature or by their level of danger.

For each of them you can consider a particular means of transport or a combination of them. Although in some cases it could be considered logical, in others it may be that the merchandise that is transported does not adapt to the environment in such a simple way.

What types of merchandise exist?

There are almost as many types of goods as there are people. With products and services increasingly adapted to the specific needs of companies and end consumers. Today there are countless proposals in market that need to be transported to reach the most remote places in the world.

The simplest way we have to classify the types of merchandise is through the Harmonised System of Designation and Codification of Goods or SA, proposed by the *World Customs Organization. According to this system, we can classify the goods in different sections:

  • Live animals or products of animal origin (animals, meat, fish, eggs and honey).
  • Products of vegetable origin (plants, flowers, fruits, nuts, coffee, tea, cereals and seeds).
  • Animal or vegetable fats and oils and their cleaning products; edible fats; waxes of animal or vegetable origin.
  • Prepared foods; drinks, alcoholic beverages and vinegars; tobacco and tobacco substitutes (processed foods, sugars, cocoa, vegetable and cereal preparations and tobacco).
  • Products of mineral origin (salt, stones, earth, cement, fuels and oils).
  • Chemical products (inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, pigments, essential oils, cosmetic preparations, soaps, explosive and pyrotechnic products and photographic material).
  • Plastics and plastic articles; rubber and rubber articles.
  • Leather and skins; saddlery and harnesses; travel articles and bags; articles made with leather and animal guts (skins, skins and artificial hair).
  • Wood and articles of wood; charcoal; cork and cork articles; straw, esparto or other similar products; baskets and wickerwork.
  • Cellulose pulp or other cellulose fiber materials; recycled paper or cardboard; articles of paper or cardboard (paper, cardboard, books, newspapers, manuscripts and plans).
  • Textiles and textile articles (silk, wool, animal hair, cotton, vegetable textile fibers, artificial fibers, carpets, etc.).
  • Shoes, hats, umbrellas, umbrellas, canes, portable chairs, whips, whips and their parts; pens and articles of feathers; artificial flowers; articles made with human hair.
  • Articles of stone, plaster, cement, mica or similar materials; ceramic products; glass and crystal
  • Natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals covered with precious metals; imitation jewelry and coins
  • Common metals and articles with common metals (iron, steel, nickel, aluminum, zinc, cans, tools, cutlery and cutlery).
  • Machinery and mechanical applications; electrical equipment; recorders and reproducers of sound, televisions and parts of the previous articles (nuclear reactors, diverse machinery and musical reproducers).
  • Vehicles, aircraft, boats and associated transport equipment (trains and their parts, vehicles and their parts, airplanes and ships, ships and other floating structures).
  • Optics, photography, cinematography, measurement, calculation, precision, instruments and medical equipment; wrist watches and watches; musical instruments; parts & accessories.
  • Weapons and ammunition; parts & accessories.
  • Miscellaneous (furniture and elements for the home, toys and others).
  • Works of art, collector’s pieces and antiques.

We can classify the goods in a simpler way: live animals, perishable products (useful life of 1-7 days), non-perishable products (long useful life), fragile goods (glassware products, works of art and eggs), large products (require specific handling and transport), dangerous goods.

Within the dangerous goods, there would be products such as explosives, flammable liquids and solids, gases, toxic substances, corrosive materials, radioactive materials, oxidizing agents and other hazardous materials.

What means of transport is adapted to each type of merchandise?

Before evaluating what means of transport will be the ideal for each type of merchandise we must think about the urgency of delivery. We also need to consider safety, budget and volume or capacity of the cargo. As well, we need to think about availability depending on the destination we have to move the merchandise. Nationally and internationally both have different means of transport: land, air and sea.

Land Transport includes road and rail transport. As a general rule, road transport is always used in the first and last section of the merchandise, which allows it to be moved to the exact point where it is needed. Land transport has the advantage that it is more flexible than others because it does not have to follow a specific schedule but can be adapted to the circumstances. Also, it’s cheaper. However, it is not the ideal means of transport when we talk about long distances.

Rail Transport allows moving goods over long distances in a shorter time, a feature that makes it a more interesting option for international trade. It is more expensive than land transport and offers less reaction if there are some incidents. However, land transport has several disadvantages, such as space and distance limitations, pollution and, in the case of road transport, an increased risk of casualties. Actually, land transport allows the transfer of all types of merchandise both in bulk and in containers.

Air Transport it is a good option when you want the goods to arrive quickly, although this implies a higher cost, which is why it is the least used means of transport. As a general rule, air transport will be used for high-volume merchandise, as well as for transporting luxury goods, medical or pharmaceutical products or urgent merchandise. The airplane also allows saving in procedures and customs, an important advantage over other means of transport.

Maritime Transport also allows the transfer of goods of all types of volumes and over long distances. Although it could seem the least important of the means of transport it is the one that has greater relevance in international trade since it represents around 90% of the total merchandise traffic worldwide. However, its main disadvantage is that it is a slower. That said, its price is the lowest and it is more respectful of the environment so for raw materials and non-perishable products it is the best option.

In general two or more means of transport are usually combined to optimise the entire process as much as possible. For example you can use a truck, trailer or train as the medium that transports a merchandise to one or another station, a cargo terminal of an airport or a cargo port, and that the same happens on arrival at the destination. 

If you want to move a specific products and do not know what is the best way to optimise the load so that it arrives on time and in perfect condition, contact us and tell us your questions without obligation. At Hyland Shipping we will be happy to help you.

*(WCO, for its acronym in English: World Customs Organisation)

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