Freight transport refers to all the processes involved in transporting merchandise and cargo around different parts of the world for commercial, industrial, relief and military purposes. The freight itself comprises of a wide variety of goods that include foodstuff, electronics, farm and industrial equipment, chemicals, raw materials, clothing and fabrics, as well as weapons and vehicles. Freight transport in a company like Star Freightlines occurs through the following ways:
- Road – This is the most common form of transport for handling freight from its point of departure to the destination. Most of the freight handled by road transport consists of light and often perishable goods such as foodstuff that cannot last for long in transit. There are several types of vehicles on the roads exclusively handling freight transport. However, the lorry is the most reliable in terms of long distances and huge loads. Unfortunately, this form of freight transport is only usable in areas with well-paved roads because the lorry and other road-going freight carriers cannot use rough roads. Lorries and pick-up vans carry their loads in special loading bays in the back designated for cargo, or carry special cargo containers on flat beds attached to their chassis.
- Rail -Another commonly used form of transport in freight operations, rail transport has been in existence for almost two centuries. Railway freight transport depends on trains that carry bigger loads than the road-going lorry on special metallic tracks. One advantage of the train-based freight transport system is the ability to carry bulky loads inland that no other form of transport can handle. However, these advantages fade because of the train's reliance on a good railway network without which the mode of transport is nonexistent. The rail-based freight transportation system handles grain, petroleum products, mineral ore, heavy industrial equipment, industrial raw materials, military vehicles and bulky weapon platforms such as tanks.
- Water – This mode of freight transport handles the largest volume of the world's freight transport using cargo and container ships that sail across the continents. All types of cargo are handled by the mammoth water vessels that have to dock at special bays and allow huge cranes to offload their cargoes. In order to make this process easy and standardised, the international community has adopted the shipping container, a standardised cargo container made of metal with special handling devices on the edges for cranes to grapple. One main disadvantage of water-based modes of freight transport, especially large container ships, is their slow speeds due to the large oceans and their sizes. However, the fact that they can carry anything makes the wait worthwhile.
- Air – This mode of freight transport relies on aircraft making it the fastest. However, the speeds and high costs of air travel also mean it is one of the most expensive. Therefore, air transport handles highly perishable cargo such as flowers and vegetables, high value goods such as electronics, and other high value freight items. Similar to water-based transport, air transport also uses standardized containers called pallets. Unlike other modes of freight transport, air transport rarely utilizes refrigerated transport equipment because of its high transit speeds.