Some Important Terms to Learn When Transporting Your Items Long Distance

Posted on: 28 April 2017


When you own or manage any type of production or warehouse facility, you will probably need to transport your items a long distance, beyond local customers that you can reach with a standard trucking or delivery service. Understanding all the details of long-distance shipping can help you better prepare you items, and better prepare for the costs involved; note a few terms to learn so you can understand what is involved in long-distance transport, and can make the right decisions for the type of transport your items might require.

Intermodal transport

Intermodal transport refers to delivering items that need more than one form of transportation. For example, a trucking company may deliver your items to a shipyard or dock, or to a rail station, and your delivery is then forwarded by a ship or train. When there is more than one mode of transportation needed in this way, you need what is called intermodal transportation.

This term is important to understand because it can be good to invest in standard metal shipping containers for intermodal transportation; this can ensure that your items don't need different packaging or added handling to be loaded and unloaded with these various types of transport. A shipping container can be easily loaded onto a flat bed truck, then onto a ship or railcar, and shipped to its final destination with very little risk of damaging your items than if you simply had them wrapped on a pallet or in wood containers.


FCL refers to a full container load; LCL refers to less than a container load. These terms are used when you want to ship your items in a shipping company's container, versus using your own container. If your items won't fill up that container, you can save money by being charged LCL, as the shipping company may have room for items from other customers to ship in the same container as your items. However, you might want to pay FCL rates, even if your items won't fill up a complete container, to avoid having to share that container with other items and risk having your inventory get damaged while in transit.


Containerization refers to shipping your items in a standard shipping container. This is a good choice for intermodal transportation, as mentioned above, and it may actually be required by some shipping companies. Be sure you understand this term, as it doesn't mean you're allowed to choose your own shipping containers, but refers specifically to these standard metal containers.