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Freight transport

What is freight transport?

This is the movement of a marketable object from a place of origin (where the merchandise is loaded) to a destination (where it is unloaded). This transportation can be national or international.

What types of freight transport are there?

Freight transport can vary according to the product’s characteristics and the type of business, with deliveries being tailored based on time and cost. The most common ones are:

  1. Road transportation: it’s cheap and fast, especially when national. It’s also a safe mode of transportation that’s capable of hauling any sort of merchandise, even taking it door-to-door.
  1. Rail transport: this consists of moving goods on freight trains. This type of train makes stops at industrial parks to deliver goods to the companies they serve. This is an ideal method for long-distance and wholesale shipments. It’s also a reliable, economical, and fast mode that is suitable for large volumes and weights.
  1. Maritime transport: this is one of the most commonly used methods of transportation for shipping goods internationally due to its high load and storage capacity. In addition, it offers access to various destinations via multiple seaports worldwide. There are a variety of ships that can be adapted to the type of merchandise, and the price varies according to the weight and volume transported. 
  1. Air transport: the main advantage of this type of transportation is speed, and it’s ideal for long distances. However, it is one of the most expensive options. The weight and size of goods are limited, too. This mode is used for high-value shipments, so it usually involves protection insurance.

It’s not always possible for goods to travel via a single mode of transportation, which is why there is multimodal transport. This entails combining more than one mode of transportation for delivering goods. 

What is needed for sustainable freight transport?

Reducing the environmental impact of transporting goods is the goal of many companies that are part of supply chain distribution. While freight transport accounts for 35% of emissions, compared to the 65% generated by passenger transportation, the European Commission has established that freight transport will lower CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to current levels.

The emission reduction goals include the following measures for transporting goods:

  • Using less polluting alternative fuels and propulsion systems, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG). These would reduce nitrogen dioxide particle emissions produced by heavy vehicles, for example.
  • Efficiently loading the vehicles used for distributing goods, preventing half-empty shipments and the associated waste of resources that negatively impact the environment. 
  • Building ships that are 30% more efficient than the current ones to achieve the International Maritime Organization’s goal of reducing CO2 emissions from ships by 50% by 2050. 
  • Adopting cleaner transportation methods based on replacing road transport with rail. The environmental impact would be reduced by more than 4% if 50% of the goods transported on roads were instead shipped on rail networks. 

What are the challenges of freight transport today?

New technologies are increasingly part of people’s and companies’ daily dynamics, and freight transport agencies are no exception. The challenges for this sector are centered on flexibility in deliveries, the commitment to environmental sustainability, and incorporating new technologies to improve its services. Other challenges include:

  • Fast, optimal management compared to the competition. 
  • Including new technologies and artificial intelligence systems for tracking and monitoring merchandise in the framework of international trade. 
  • Automating systems and operations that range from developing applications that enable merchandise tracking to methods for storage and distribution. 
  • Integrating robotics for transporting and delivering merchandise. One example of this is using drones for distribution.
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