When Do You Need Sea, Land Or Air Freight Transportation Services?

When Do You Need Sea, Land Or Air Freight Transportation Services?

  • Avatar photo by Best Inc.
  • 07/07/2020

Choosing the right transportation system for your freight transportation needs is part and parcel of every purchase order process. Freight involves bulk shipping, where products are bundled together in large quantities and sent out usually to retailers or wholesalers. Bulk shipping is a whole different ball game from customer fulfillment, and each delivery method comes with its own set of pros and cons. So how would you know whether to choose between sea, land or air freight transportation services? Let’s assess each of them below.

Freight Transportation

Air Freight Transportation

If you’re looking for reliability and convenience, air freight is the way to go. With air freight, you usually can expect fast shipping times, which means perishable items that cannot afford to stay in transit an extra day or two can get to you on time. Fragile goods are also best transported by air, as packages shipped via plane may have more protection against accidental damage as compared to by trucks or cargo ships.

The downside to air freight is of course the cost, which mainly comes from the way shipping costs are calculated. Airlines use dimensional weight (also known as volumetric weight) to charge shippers, which can leave a dent in your company’s funds. Furthermore, deliveries are more susceptible to delays due to inclement weather, which can cause losses and aggravation for your business. Finally, air transport has the biggest impact on the environment – on average, a plane produces just over 53 lbs of carbon dioxide per mile. When it all adds up, that’s a lot for our trees to take in.

Land Transportation

Most of the deliveries by land are done via trucks or trains. They can be assessed either as less than truckload (LTL) or full truckload (FTL). LTL is typically used for shipments above 200-250 pounds, and FTL for shipments above 15,000 pounds, which also requires moving bulk or pallet loads using a semi-trailer.

The benefits of FTL are increased cost effectiveness, but also less potential freight damage along the way, as it requires less handling than LTL – but of course, you need to have the inventory for such a large shipment. While land transport is slower than air freight, it costs less and has a smaller carbon footprint.

Sea Shipping

Sea shipping may be slow, but they are mostly steady, and also usually the most cost-effective option for transporting your inventory. Sea shipping goes by containers, and so larger and heavier products, or large quantities of products that can be packed together, would easily find sea shipping the best option. There are fewer restrictions on cargo ships than on airplanes in terms of what types of items can be shipped out – so if you’re moving vehicles, or heavy machinery, this would be your choice freight method. The LTL or FTL principle also applies here, but for containers instead of trucks. Sea freight is also the most environmentally friendly of all options listed here.

Of course, some businesses may not be able to afford the luxury of long delivery times as required by sea freight. Furthermore, weather delays can affect cargo ships from leaving port. Based in the US and with a large presence in Asia, BEST Inc. are experts at cross-border transportation. Contact us to find out how we can serve your business needs.