Cargo (or freight) is goods or produce transported, generally for commercial gain, by ship or aircraft, although the term is now extended to intermodal train, van or truck. In modern times, containers are used in most long-haul cargo transport.
Seaport terminals handle a wide range of maritime cargo.
Automobiles are handled at many ports and are usually carried on specialized roll-on/roll-off ships.
Break bulk cargo is typically material stacked on pallets and lifted into and out of the hold of a vessel by cranes on the dock or aboard the ship itself. The volume of break bulk cargo has declined dramatically worldwide as containerization has grown. One way to secure break bulk and freight in intermodal containers is by using Dunnage Bags.
Bulk cargo, such as salt, oil, tallow, and scrap metal, is usually defined as commodities that are neither on pallets nor in containers. Bulk cargoes are not handled as individual pieces, the way heavy-lift and project cargoes are. Alumina, grain, gypsum, logs, and wood chips, for instance, are bulk cargoes.
Neo-bulk cargo comprises individual units that are counted as they are loaded and unloaded, in contrast to bulk cargo that is not counted, but that are not containerized.
Containers are the largest and fastest growing cargo category at most ports worldwide. Containerized cargo includes everything from auto parts, machinery and manufacturing components to shoes and toys to frozen meat and seafood.
Project cargo and the heavy lift cargo include items like manufacturing equipment, air conditioners, factory components, generators, wind turbines, military equipment, and almost any other oversized or overweight cargo which is too big or too heavy to fit into a container.
Air cargo, commonly known as air freight, is collected by firms from shippers and delivered to customers. Aircraft were first used for carrying mail as cargo in 1911. Eventually manufacturers started designing aircraft for other types of freight as well.
Trains are capable of transporting large numbers of containers that come from shipping ports. Trains are also used for the transportation of steel, wood and coal. They are used because they can carry a large amount and generally have a direct route to the destination. Under the right circumstances, freight transport by rail is more economic and energy efficient than by road, especially when carried in bulk or over long distances.
The main disadvantage of rail freight is its lack of flexibility. For this reason, rail has lost much of the freight business to road transport. Rail freight is often subject to transshipment costs, since it must be transferred from one mode of transportation to another. Practices such as containerization aim at minimizing these costs.
Many firms, like Parcelforce, FedEx and R+L Carriers transport all types of cargo by road. Delivering everything from letters to houses to cargo containers, these firms offer fast, sometimes same-day, delivery.
A good example of road cargo is food, as supermarkets require deliveries every day to keep their shelves stocked with goods. Retailers of all kinds rely upon delivery trucks, be they full size semi trucks or smaller delivery vans.