Comparing different ways to transport freight
There are many reasons to consider changing the way you ship a product. Whether you have new requirements to meet, or your normal solution currently has capacity or cost concerns, exploring alternative options can help you make sure you’re choosing the best mode. Learn what to expect from different solutions and how ArcBest can help you source the capacity you need.
Pros and cons for each capacity option
Every solution has unique advantages that make it more favorable for certain shipments, but there are always trade-offs to consider in your decision-making process.
Though truckload does require paying for the entire trailer, exclusive use of the equipment comes with benefits including:
- Efficient transit times. Shipments go directly from origin to destination since yours is the only one in the equipment.
- Minimal handling. Freight stays in the trailer it’s loaded in, which means there’s no need to handle it outside of loading and unloading.
Learn more about the advantages of full truckload.
While frequently associated with smaller shipments, less-than-truckload (LTL) can be a good fit for freight that typically goes on a dry van. The extended transit times might not work for all shipments, but LTL does provide:
- Potential cost savings. Depending on the size of the shipment, the LTL cost structure may be beneficial. Instead of paying for the entire trailer, you’ll only pay for the space the freight occupies.
- Operational flexibility. Because you don’t have to wait for enough freight to fill an entire trailer, you may be able to ship orders out faster and more regularly than with other modes.
Have a small shipment? See how LTL compares to parcel.
In most cases, intermodal shipping is a great capacity option for freight that doesn’t have a strict time requirement. In exchange for longer transit times, you’ll receive:
- Consistent service. Trains don’t get sick or take vacation days, so rail schedules are very reliable.
- Historically cheaper rates. Capacity and fuel costs can affect this at different times, but intermodal is historically the cheapest option for long-haul shipments.
Although ground expedite rates are usually higher than what you’ll see with other modes, this capacity source provides:
- Fast transit. Expedite carriers have networks designed to deliver freight quickly at all hours of the day.
- Special handling options. Premium services like temperature control and enhanced security are available for sensitive or high-value items.
Dedicated transportation can be an efficient option for frequent long-haul shipments going to and from the same locations. While not all shipments make sense for this mode due to the restrictions around what qualifies, utilizing it appropriately can improve your operations. Here’s what you can expect from this service:
- Custom scheduling. Equipment will be dropped off and picked up on a schedule that fits your needs, making it easy to ensure your shipments are on time.
- Better time management. Because dedicated shipments are covered in advance, you won’t spend time quoting individual shipments — time you can now spend on other needs!
Suggested read: Benefits of Dedicated Transportation
The cost of air shipping may make it unfavorable for some freight, but it is ideal for valuable shipments with tight deadlines. This is due to advantages such as:
- Quick delivery. Air is the fastest way to transport goods over long distances — especially for international shipments.
- Tight security. Due to the high security requirements at airports and the inability to access planes during transit, freight shipped via air is well protected against theft.
For international shipments, ocean shipping is typically the cheapest option. However, its long transit times could make it not work for some shipments. In addition to usually being cheaper than air freight, ocean also provides:
- The ability to ship large cargo. The size of ocean vessels makes it possible to ship freight that would not be able to go on a plane.
- Some flexibility. Full container load and less-than-container load options allow you to ship different volumes of freight.
Still not sure which method to choose? Learn more about the importance of mode optimization and how to select the right option.
Source capacity for your shipments with ArcBest
ArcBest’s position as an integrated logistics company gives us the unique ability to cover virtually any mode to meet your operational requirements. No matter your needs, ArcBest can provide a solution— either through our own assets or through our growing network of capacity providers. Reach out to us so we can discuss your options or log in to your account to get a quote online.