We know very well that the basic modes of transport are road, sea, air and rail. In general, a mode of transport is the means by which goods or materials are transfer from one point to another.
The criteria of speed, reliability and cost should be examined when considering the choice of mode. Different modes will have quite different characteristics, therefore, the appropriate mode must be carefully selected in order to match all the requirements. Multi-modal solutions may provide the most effective and efficient transport option.
The physical characteristics of certain goods and materials may determine a specific transport, however most of goods will be capable of being moved by variety modes.
It is important to fully recognize the operational characteristics of the modes, also necessary to consider the type of the vehicle or equipment that will be used within that mode.
So, in general, mode selection is influenced by:
I. Operational factors.
Certain operational factors need to be considered when selecting appropriate mode:
1. The nature of the consignment to be moved. Factors to consider are:
- the size, shape and weight of the goods or materials,
- the value, requirement for security in transit and degree of fragility,
- deterioration of the period,
- the hazardous nature of goods.
2. Aspects to be considered for customers features:
- the geographical location and dispersion of customer to be serviced,
- delivery time required by delivery point, for example within 24 hours and the regularity with which consignments are to be delivered must be known,
- the features of the delivery point must be known in terms of physical access, weight restrictions and loading / unloading facilities,
- the average consignment size.
3. Number of environmental factors, social-economic and politic conditions:
- in some countries/cities environmental and legislative considerations, for example, vehicle and axle weight limits could substantially limit the choice of the most effective mode of transport,
- the country/city transport infrastructure, in terms of the extent and quality of roads and railways, will define mode availability,
- laws and taxation policies may offer incentives or restrictions on the use of particular modes of transport,
- availability of labor and capital, specialist and technological knowledge,
- weather conditions, for example, monsoon weather, can restrict the choice of mode.
II. Mode selection criteria
Four key criteria can be used when comparing different transport modes, the parameters are:
- The speed which the mode exhibits – nature of a mode normally determines the speed at which goods can be moved. However, the nature of the modal infrastructure can have an impact on the relative speed of that mode.
- The reliability that the mode demonstrates in its ability to fulfill service requirements – the reliability of the transport service to deliver the correct goods, in the right condition at required time, every time, is a major aspect of customer expectation.
- The comparative unit costs, which the modes incur – the cost of a mode will often be expressed in terms of the unit cost for transporting the goods or materials, rather than an absolute figure. This could be expressed as a cost per sack, cost per tonne and cost per pallet or similar. The distance the goods have to travel must also be considered. Therefore, modal cost can also be expressed in terms of a value per tonne kilometer for example.
- The flexibility that the mode exhibits – flexibility relates to the scope for variation, which exists in a mode. The infrastructure within which a mode has to operate will affect the flexibility mode, due to the road infrastructure, which exists in most countries. Rail, for example, is less flexible, being constrained by the available fixed infrastructure.
So in conclusion we could say that all transportation needs to be carefully planned. It is important to understand the mode of transport for the benefit of both customer and transport companies or who managing the transportation.