Differences between sea freight, air freight & railroad transportation

Both for export, but also for import, there are different ways to transport your products. The individual types all have their advantages & disadvantages and each company must decide for itself what is best suited for the product in question. In the following article, three different possibilities are explained and the advantages and disadvantages are described, so that each company can decide for itself which type of transport it prefers and what needs to be considered.

Factors to consider when deciding on a type of transportation:

  • How far is the distance?
  • How large is the available budget?
  • How urgently are the goods needed?
  • How large & heavy are the goods?
  • Are there laws & regulations that apply to my transportation?
  • Who is liable for damage caused by transportation?

Sea freight

Sea freight is a frequently used mode of transport, which is partly due to the fact that it is cheaper than, for example, air freight. With sea freight, the goods are shipped in containers, and the company can choose between whole containers or a part of a container. This makes sea freight suitable for smaller and larger orders. If a company needs only a part of a container, then the price is usually calculated by kilogram. If a product is needed quickly, then sea freight is not the right choice, because transport via ship takes, for example, a month from China to Germany and it can take an additional few days for the goods to be transported from the supplier to the nearest port and in Germany from the port to the company. Some Chinese suppliers offer to organize and coordinate the freight. This can be beneficial, especially for inexperienced companies, but it may be a bit more expensive. Sea freight is very popular with entrepreneurs and logisticians, as it is for the most part very reliable and offers good value for money.

Air freight

When things need to move a little faster, many companies choose air freight. But besides the speed, the transport via airplane offers some advantages, such as a high degree of reliability and security, which other modes of transport can not offer in this form. Probably the biggest disadvantage, on the other hand, is the high price, because this type of transport is significantly more expensive than others, especially for larger quantities and a high weight of the goods. The price depends on the weight of the cargo and the volume that the cargo occupies in the aircraft. The distance flown also affects the price. Overall, longer distances are understandably more expensive than shorter ones, but the volume of flights also plays a role. For example, flights to and from China are cheaper than routes that are flown less frequently because of the very high volume.

Air freight Kaiserberg

Rail transportation

Probably the most environmentally friendly transport solution is transport by rail, due to low CO² emissions. Probably the biggest advantages of this mode of transport are that it is faster than sea freight and at the same time cheaper than air freight. On average, a rail shipment from China to Germany takes 15 days, which is only about half as long as via ship. Compared to air freight, a company can save a lot of money as it can be up to 70% cheaper. As a company, you can also distinguish whether you need a whole container or only a partial load when transporting by rail, so it is suitable for any delivery. Since it is not calculated by weight, there can be significant savings on a heavy cargo. Also, the connection of the producers to the rail networks is usually better than the connection to the port, so the delivery to the actual means of transport is often faster and easier, which can save a lot of time and money. Because of these reasons, many companies see rail transportation as a good choice for their shipments, especially from countries like China.

You have no experience in import or export? We are happy to help you!

With our partner Häberle Logistik we support you actively in all decisions and logistic processes. We are looking forward to a successful cooperation with you!