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Various Methods of Transportation in the Supply Chain Essay

Transportation is defined as the movement of people, materials or products from one location to another. “Transport is important since it enables trade between people, which in turn establishes civilizations.” Logistics is referred to as both the freight and inventory management (i.e. planning, execution and control) as well as the warehousing of materials and products (i.e. food, equipment, liquids and staff, including abstract items like information flowing to reports and documentation relating to goods, particles, and energy) through both internal and external distribution networks

. This includes the act of packaging products for both storage and shipment. Transportation is one of the most important factors in our lives. It reduces time by allowing people or products to travel from one location to another with speed. “The history of transportation goes back to the pre-historic ages and their method of transportation mostly consisted of walking and swimming.

Gradually man learned to use animals to carry himself as well as his belongings. Use of animals as means of transportation was revolutionized by the invention of the wheel. The wheel can be given the credit for changing the whole concept of traveling and transportation.” Land and road transportation dates back to pre-historic ages and after the invention of wheels this road transport revolutionized in a big way.

Water transport also had a large impact on growing civilizations. Cities were established along the banks of rivers and shores of oceans in order to make sure that the civilization never ran out of both food and water. There are reports of boat and ship usage as old as 30 BC and technology has improved this method greatly.

About 500 years ago the rail was utilized for transport. Initially, it consisted of man or horse power and sometimes also of rails made of wood. In the 1800’s the modern railway was developed.

In 1903 the Wright brothers invented the airplane. This proved to be one of the most revolutionizing inventions in the history of mankind. Airplane technology has changed considerably over the years, which is why they are now known as the fastest method of transportation and travel.

Transportation is one of the first processes that man started. There really is no definable history of transportation timelines so it can’t be dated back to an exact time period. What we do know is that the process of transportation is as old as man himself and will remain while people remain on the earth.

In the United States the Logistics and transportation industry is one of the most competitive industries in existence. “Spending in the U.S. logistics and transportation industry totaled nearly $1.3 trillion in 2011, and averaged 8.5 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP). Analysts expect industry investment to correlate with growth in the U.S. economy.” Supply chain networks in the United States link many producers and consumers through various transportation modes.

Transportation does have a huge effect on the economy and direct impact on the development and the welfare of all populations. When transportation systems are efficient there is easier access to markets, more employment opportunities and good financial turnaround. When these systems are deficient in terms of capacity or reliability, they can have a negative impact by increasing the economic cost.

Some of the crucial elements of effective logistic management include movement of product, movement of information, time or service, cost and integration. Movement of product is generally what people think of when they think of logistics. There is a lot involved here, product moves should complement the overall corporate strategy. When we want to lower cost or improve inventories our actions must align with these goals. In order to have efficient supply products must flow, plans must be flexible. If there isn’t a proper flow there are risks of imbalances, money loss and products not reaching their final destination.

There are five basic modes of logistical transportation. These are water, rail, motor carrier, air and pipeline. Water is the slowest form with air being the fastest.

Transportation by road is histories most basic means of transport from one location to another. There are many types of vehicles used for road transportation but trucks and motor carriers are most often used for delivering large amounts of freight. This type of transport is usually carried over short and medium distances. “The American Trucking Associations reports that in 2011, trucks moved 9.2 billion tons of freight, or about 67 percent of all freight tonnage transported domestically. Motor carriers collected $604 billion in revenues, or about 81 percent of total revenue earned by all domestic transport modes.”

Road transportation has a lot of advantages such as having a relatively lower cost than other logistical forms of transportation. Because of the lower cost and flexible route advantage road transport is generally used for non-perishable items traveling shorter distances. However, transport by road takes a relatively longer period of time than other methods and has limited capacity.

Railroad transport uses freight trains for the transportation and delivery of merchandise or passengers by way of wheeled vehicles running on rails. These freight trains are usually powered by steam, diesel and electricity and are directionally guided by the tracks on which they run. “Since the late 1900s container trains were considered to be the dominant solution for bulk quantities of freight, but as they lack the flexibility of road transport and incur an additional transshipment cost, this logistics method has become a little less popular in recent times.

However, using rail transport can be less expensive if freight is large and heavy and the pickup point as well as the delivery point is near the rail head.”

Water transportation or ship transport is the intentional movement of water, passengers or cargo over large distances. Water transport includes the use of ships and large commercial vessels that carry cargo every year. Steam engines were developed in the 18th century and have been a long favorite pick for making ships move. Over time changes have been made to how ships run and today petroleum or bunker fuel is used instead.

“Sea, lake or river transport is particularly effective for significantly large quantities of goods that are non-perishable in nature and for cities or states that have water access. Moreover, transport via water is considerably less expensive than other logistics methods, which makes it one of the most widely used choices of transport for merchandise.”

In recent times the level of sea travel has decreased due to aviation. “Transport by water is cheaper than transport by air, despite fluctuating exchange rates and CAF charges to account for such.”

“Ship transport can be over any distance by boat, ship, sailboat or barge, over oceans and lakes, through canals or along rivers. Shipping may be for commerce, recreation or the military purpose. Virtually any material that can be moved can be moved by water; however, water transport becomes impractical when material delivery is highly time-critical.” The use of pipes for oil transportation began sometime in 1859. The purpose of these small pipes was to get oil from drill holes to nearby tanks or refineries. In the 1860’s, because of the demand increase there also raised the need for transportation of the products to markets and the pipeline business grew.

Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Liquids and gases are usually sent this way but tubes using compressed air can also transport solid capsules. Really any chemically stable substance can be sent through a pipeline. Some examples of substances sent through a pipeline include sewage, water and in some cases even beer! Pipelines are most valuable for transporting crude petroleum and refined petroleum products including fuel, oil and natural gas.

With the invention of the airplane eventually came air transport. This type of transport provides critical capabilities for a modern economy. Regardless of what is being transported, the ability to quickly and reliably transport over great distances improves not only the quality of life but also the standard of living for everyone.

“Air travel has revolutionized global transportation by dramatically reducing the time needed to travel great distances. Journeys across nations or oceans that might have taken weeks or months can now be made in a matter of hours. With large numbers of people traveling in airplanes, air transportation has become a major part of the world’s transportation system.” Airplanes not only transport people from place to place but they also push shipments of mail, perishable goods, and other important cargo regularly.

Transportation plays a connective role in the supply chain. Production and manufacturing plants, most warehousing services and merchandising establishments are all about doing transportation. There have been many changes over the years and with our growth in technology there will be many more changes to come in the future. There are various methods of transport and choosing the right method will depend on individual needs.


Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Transportation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport Yung-Yu Tseng, The Role of Transportation in Logistics Chain
http://www.siam.org/journals/ plagiary/1657.pdf
Tamara Wilhite, What Is Transportation & Logistics?
http://www.ehow.com/about_6515100_ transportation-
Select USA, The U.S. Logistics and Transportation Industry
Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue and Dr. Theo Notteboom, The importance of Transportation
http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch7en/conc7en/ch7c1en.html The United States Department of Transportation: A Brief History
Transportation A Supply Chain Perspective

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