Modes of transport
When customers want to have commodities transferred from one place to another several different modes of transport are available. Early archeological evidence suggests that maritime routes and water based transports were able to carry large shipments of cargo. The first civilizations already had these routes and trading posts established. The first world empires established extensive trading networks and although land based routes did change over time most maritime services did not. Seagoing vessels have improved significantly and breakthroughs have boosted maritime trade (e.g. steam powered ships, advancements in propeller technology and the adoption of containers as a common unit). In recent times vessel design and cargo capacity have been increased because of economies.
Land based transport remained a cumbersome enterprise except in areas where a strong central authority safeguarded trade routes. The development and commercial availability of the combustion engine proved to be one of the major improvements for land transport while highways made transport fairly fast and easy in recent times. In Europe the development of highways took off after the Second World War and road transport by trucks became the most prominent mode.
Vessels can navigate both coastal areas and inland waterways while ocean going ships are considered to be a special class on their own. During the 19th century many countries expanded their inland navigation network as barges gained more commercial importance. In the Netherlands and Germany inland navigation became a popular mode of transport because of excellent rivers and improved canal accessibility. Today this mode is considered to be one of the most promising modes of transport when obtaining a more balanced modal split.
Railroads were introduced in the wake of the industrial revolution and were considered to be important strategic assets up to the end of the Second World War. This mode was primarily used to transport heavy cargo (ores, minerals, steel, and cereals) over large distances and became an essential factor in the production of steel. In the US railroads serve as corridors to transport goods from the three major coastal zones to other locations. The “landbrigdes” railroads are able to compete with the Panama Canal. In Europe, an international core railway network is being set up in the member states.
Underground transport remains one of the prominent modes of transport unknown to the wide public. Most developments en breakthroughs were achieved in the wake of military and small-scale projects, but major applications are not yet put into practice. Pipelines are being built and operated by the chemicals industry in order to transport both liquids and various gasses. Here it offers a relatively cheap and safe logistics solution for mass transport. This mode of transport does offer interesting prospects in the long term future as other underground transport systems can be developed should the need arise.
Airborne transport was introduced quite late in time and is primarily being used for time-sensitive small packages. Many logistics service providers offer express services to customers; air and road based transport are critical components in order to able to offer services worldwide.