Ground Cargo Modes, Benefits, and Strategies

Nov 7, 2019Supply Chain Management

Ground transport is one of the most widely used methods in the logistics and supply chain industries. There are several different ground modes for shipping, and each one offers specific benefits to a supply chain.

We’ve broken down the different ground shipping modes, along with each mode’s unique benefits.

Less than Truckload Freight Shipping (LTL)

This type of shipping is particularly useful when cargo doesn’t take up the entire space of one trailer, or when cargo is between 150 and 15,000 pounds. Because the cargo does not take up the full space of the trailer, your company is only charged for what space you do use. This allows you to pay only for the space you need, instead of for an entire trailer.

Optimization of the truck space you use, is equally as valuable for LTL as you might assume for FTL. Packaging standards, for your specific commodity, that allows stacking either of your own pallets or with other shippers’ pallets will ensure that you have the lowest possible application of the LTL rates to your shipments.

Full Truckload Shipping (FTL)

When cargo is sent via full truckload shipping (FTL), it means that the cargo typically takes up a full trailer. However, there may be instances when it is beneficial to ship using FTL, even if the trailer isn’t full. This is a great solution for shipments that require a dedicated truck, but it may be more expensive than if this cargo was sent using LTL.

Remember that in LTL shipping, pallets may be loaded and unloaded multiple times before they are delivered, which could expose that cargo to the elements or damage. Because of this, as a general rule, if your shipment is over 15,000 pounds, fragile, sensitive to temperature, or needed quickly, FTL is typically a good choice.

Rail Transportation

If your supply chain needs to ship large or heavy goods, rail transportation may be a wonderful solution. Since this mode can be cost-effective, especially for destinations that are close to the railhead, large or heavy goods can be shipped for an optimal price.

When shipping via rail, it’s important to consider if the railroad stops at a location that is close to your cargo’s destination. Cargo may also need to be transported from the rail to trucks in order to be delivered at the final destination. However, unlike many other ground transportation modes, rail is not often subject to weather delays, which can help when in-clement or winter weather is on the way.

Intermodal Transportation

If your shipment needs to travel a great distance, intermodal transportation may be a solution. During intermodal transportation, cargo is shifted multiple times between modes of transportation, which would include rail, ship, truck, and air. Foreign shipments are frequently sent using this service.

Intermodal transportation is one of the most cost-effective solutions available. It can also be more secure than other methods, since each time a load transfers modes, it typically goes through security.

Our team is passionate about finding the most cost-effective shipping solution for your supply chain. Contact us today to speak to our team and to get started optimizing your ground transportation strategies.


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