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Emergency Logistics Glossary

Freight shipping: What does the term stand for?

What is freight shipping?

In logistics, freight shipping is the physical process during which goods and merchandise are transported from place to place outside the company. Incidentally, the term “goods” also covers the transport of animals. Freight transport thus differs fundamentally from so-called passenger transport.

What are the types of freight transport?

Goods are generally transported by road, rail, water, and air. Basically, freight transport can be described in more detail with the help of the following differentiation criteria:

  • Type of transport
  • Mode of transport
  • Means of transport
Type of transport Mode of transport Means of transport
Road freight transport Long-distance traffic, local traffic, factory traffic Truck
Rail freight General cargo, combined transport Freight trains
Air freight Short-haul, medium-haul, long-haul aircraft Cargo aircraft
Water traffic Inland navigation
Maritime shipping
Motor shipping, Tugboat shipping, Push boat shipping, Container ships, Reefer ships, Bulk carriers, Heavy-lift carriers, General cargo vessels

Freight shipping: not just by water

In addition to “freight transport”, “freight shipping” and “freight shipment” have established themselves as further, internationally common terms for freight transport. As the terms suggest, they were originally used

  • only for the transport of goods by ship, and
  • on waterways suitable for transport

Over the course of time, however, the meaning of the terms has expanded. In American English in particular, “freight shipping” and “freight shipment” are nowadays understood in a broader sense, encompassing not only the shipment of goods in the literal sense of the word, but also other freight types such as land freight transport – e.g., freight transport by truck – and freight transport by air.

What is intermodal freight transport?

The term intermodality first appeared in freight transport in the 1960s in the USA, in the context of the introduction of standardized containers. Such standardized containers can be transported

  • by rail
  • by truck
  • by ship

Intermodal freight transport describes a kind of freight shipping in which a transport or loading unit is transported using two or more modes of transport. It should be noted that the principle only involves a change of loading unit. There is no transshipment of the actual goods.

Intermodal vs. combined transport

The so-called combined traffic is a sub-category of intermodal traffic. According to a definition by the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), these are the main characteristics of combined transport:

  • a major part of the journey is by rail, inland waterway, or sea.
  • Initial and final legs carried out by road are as short as possible.

Freight transport and the international economy

With an advancing globalization, the importance of freight shipping as an economic success factor has steadily increased. The longer the transport routes and the higher the volume of traffic, the more crucial it is to have professionally organized and smoothly functioning logistics. Just-in-time manufacturing industries are nowadays often dependent on supply chains that can reliably ensure the transport of goods even over long distances. As the international transport of a wide variety of goods increases, certain special forms of freight transport are also steadily gaining in importance worldwide.

Same day delivery: Sameday Air

Special freight services have established themselves for the rapid shipment and same-day delivery of particularly time-critical goods. Importance is attached here to the transport of goods by air freight due to the speed of the means of transport. With Sameday Air, for example, time:matters offers a proven transport solution for logistical emergencies.

Door-to-door delivery

The transport of goods using the Door-to-Door (D2D) shipping method is ideal wherever reliable delivery of particularly sensitive goods is required in air freight transport . The spectrum ranges from confidential documents and important spare parts to life-saving stem cells. Unlike other special forms of freight transport, D2D is not part of the so-called Incoterms – this should be clear to the sender and recipient before they decide on this special form of emergency logistics in freight transport.