Basic Modes of International Transportation


International transportation can be a complex mode of serious shipping or it can be a simple way of moving the cargo from point A to point B. In the end, transportation is to bring your product from one end to the other in the most cost efficient way and in a timely manner. Most companies prefer to deal with logistic companies who can offer combinations of shipping methods. As an importer, depending on your industry needs, you may require different methods of cargo transportation.

Dealing with a single logistic company who can offer ground, air and ocean transportation can save you money and provide additional value-added supply chain services.

What are the different modes of transportation and which service is more suitable for your business?

It is all depends how urgently you need your cargo or what is your buying volume.

It is the fastest way to ship your cargo but it is costly. Air freight is your best option for time sensitive cargo. As an importer when you are in a rush to bring your cargo to its final destination, air freight is the fastest and most secure way. Using a 3-4 day transit time air carrier service is always less costly then direct air carriers. Ask your logistics partner to offer you several air cargo carrier options. Based on your need choosing a longer transit time air carrier option can save you money.

There are 2 ways of shipping ocean; FCL(Full Container Load) or LCL (Less Than Container Load)

It is the most efficient way to ship your cargo. Commonly used container sizes are 20STD, 40STD and 40HC. There are also numerous types of ocean containers used for international ocean freight transportation, including 45HC. open top, flat racks etc. Based on your volume and type of product, your logistics partner can suggest what type of container will be more suitable and cost saving for you.

It is commonly used if you don’t have enough cargo to fill a container load. You pay only for the space used in the container. Typically LCL rate is calculated by volume but not by weight. Always discuss with your logistics partner if you need LCL or FCL service. There is always a breaking point where LCL or FCL shipment might be more cost savings for you. Once you ship LCL you share the containers with other importers and there are more add on costs since the container needs to go CFS (Container Freight Station) to be split. Shipping the container with a little bit empty space but as FCL might be cheaper then sharing with others as LCL.

It is always better to transport cargo to the location that is as close to the ultimate destination as possible. Sometimes you might need to use a combination of services. Using rail service in addition to ocean freight service will cost more then using solely ocean freight.

Your logistic partner should always offer you which service is best and most cost efficient for your needs.

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Onur Akarca
Onur was born and raised in Turkey, where he got his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. Onur worked as a Logistic Manager for a garment importing company for 10 years before joining MTS. He has been working in sales at MTS Logistics since February 2008. Having been on the other side as a logistics manager for a garment importing company helps him to understand what customers need from a logistics partner, especially for time sensitive cargoes like garment. Fun Fact: Onur loves skiing and soccer!