Each year, billions of dollars are spent on moving products around the world. With smart logistics, you can move products fasterâ€"and save your company money.
The United States has the largest freight transportation system in the world. The stats are fairly staggering: four million miles of public roads, 140,000 miles of railroad tracks operated by freight carriers, 25,000 miles of navigable waterways, 9,800 coastal and inland waterway facilities, and 5,200 public-use airports, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The distance of roads alone would equal about 10 round-trips to the moon.
Choosing how you get your company's products from point A to point B to point C is one of the most important decisions you can make. After all, shipping products faster and cheaper will make for happier customers. That's where logistics come in.
If you want to maximize your company's profits, it's important to stay abreast of current trends in the transportation industry. For instance, many companies are beginning to move their supply chain and shipping centers to southern states, where it's more cost effective, according to Christiaan Wolhof, president of the Eagan, Minnesota-based K2 Logistics. "That tendency is continuing very, very rapidly," he notes. Shipping to areas with high—and low—population denisities tend to affect prices, too. Sending trucks to large cities gets expensive because of city restrictions that prevent access to large trucks. Shipping to rural areas tends to be more pricey, too, because if there's no freight to carry out, carriers will charge extra fees to cover the expenses of moving vehicles with no cargo.
Below is a brief overview of the different methods of shipping—by land, sea, and air—as well as some of the trends that have been affecting each mode of transport.