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Modes of transport

The following methods of transport are used to move goods today.

  • Road vehicles (trucks, vans, motorcycles)
  • Railways
  • Inland waterways (barges)
  • Deep sea
  • Air (Aircraft and drones)
  • Pipelines
  • A combination of the above called inter-modal or multi-modal

The following video is an interactive map showing all of the different freight shipping movements across the world. We not only see container ships but also finished car carriers and bulk transportation such as oil, gas and food carriers.

  • Look for the Panama and Suez canals which enable quicker journeys throughout out the world.

Ship Movements Across the Globe Ship Movements Across the Globe

Although a cleaner form of transport, in comparison to air, sea freight does emit carbon as shown on the interactive map.

The picture below shows how you can combine the different modes of transport to move products from the factory to their end destination. This is called inter-modal or multi-modal.

The inter-modal or multi-modal

The case study, available through the link in the ‘download ‘section below, shows how General Mills and a third party logistics provider, Culina, have worked together to combine different forms of transport and constructed a warehouse to service their increasing client base. The case study discusses the challenges faced by manufacturers and the Port Centric and Multi-modal solutions they have introduced.

Each mode of transport has its advantages and disadvantages. The chart below shows some of those advantages and disadvantages. Can you think of any more criteria with which we can compare the different modes of transport?

Each mode of transport has its advantages and disadvantages Adapted from Gourdin K, Global Logistics Management 2006

Watch the videos below and see how combining different modes of transport enables companies to deliver their goods in a more environmentally friendly way. Each of the Marco Polo videos show how companies can reduce the use of road transport and therefore their effects on the environment by utilising other modes of freight transportation such as river barges, small ships and trains.

Talking point

  • What are the potential barriers to using more than one mode of transportation for a journey. Think about time and potential damage to the goods for example.

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This article is from the free online course:

Supply Chains in Practice: How Things Get to You

The University of Warwick