The manufacturing industry in the United States is enormous, and many industries are producing vast amounts of goods today ranging from pharmaceuticals to cars to grocery store goods, but it is not enough to merely produce these items. Equally important are transport services, and trucks, trains, and aircraft can carry cargo all across the United States to and from factories, warehouses, and retailers day and night, and expedited freight may be delivered for time-sensitive cargo, and pharma logistics may often demand an expedited freight service for hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies across the country. Pharma logistics may be strained during cold and flu seasons, or when other contagions break out, so pharma logistics call for expedited trucking and more so that valuable medicine can be sent to medical facilities right away. But even if urgent pharma logistics are not on the line, it is still important for cargo to be delivered on time so that retailers can get their products and sell them to the public. Pharma logistics, car dealers, grocery stores, electronics stores, liquor stores, and many more will need their freight brought on time from factories and warehouses. This is where trucks and trains come in.
American Transport Today
The American transportation network is a big one, and there are billions or even trillions of dollars’ worth of food, medicine, home appliances, cars, raw materials, and more to get around from factories, warehouses, and other sites. All together, the American transport network boasts just over 12 million trucks, rail cars, locomotives, and ocean vessels to move all these items around on time. Right now, the three top commodities that American freight transport systems move, in terms of value, are machinery, electronics, and motorized vehicles, although industries such as textiles, food, and medicine are certainly large as well. This makes for a lot of spending to get everything where it needs to go. Today, spending on U.S. logistics and transport, from pharma logistics to delivering new cars, totaled $1.48 trillion as of 2015, an impressive amount, and this represented an entire 8% of the United States’ GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In fact, all this is due to grow: experts at the U.S. Department of Transportation believe that the value of all freight moved will climb from $882 per tons in 2007 all the way to $1,377 in the year 2040. This coincides with a rise in volume: as of 2013, trucks delivered nearly 15 billion tons of cargo, and by the year 2040, that number may climb to 18.79 billion tons. What are some common strategies for getting all these goods around?
Not all cargo is the same, and a shipping company may require either a full load in a truck’s cargo bay or just a fraction of it, and this is where transport services get creative. It is a straightforward matter if a large retailer like Target or Wal-Mart fills many trucks to maximum capacity with their goods, but other client companies may have much smaller loads that will only take up a fraction of a truck’s carrying capacity. But it is wasteful to spend an entire truck’s worth of cargo space for just a small shipment, so instead, LTL shipping can be done, or “less than truckload.” LTL freight services can provide trucks that will carry not just one client’s cargo, but cargo for several, all sharing room in a truck’s cargo bay until it is full, and each client shipper will pay for only the storage space that their products are using. This way, a truck maintains its own efficiency by carrying a full load, and each client is only paying for what they are using. This can be a lifesaver for smaller manufacturers who cannot afford to pay for a lot of totally full trucks.
Shipping methods vary based on the cargo. Some items should be strapped down on pallets or secured some other way to prevent falls, and cold-sensitive items like a grocery store’s dairy products or frozen foods can be delivered in a reefer truck, on that has a refrigerated storage space. Hazardous materials like liquid nitrogen, radioactive waste, or explosive natural gas may need special equipment and specially-trained crews to handle everything safely and prevent a disaster on the road.