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Operations of Shipping Transport

It is said that transporting goods adds to their cost and not to their value, therefore movement of goods is normally by the cheapest and most suitable method in the given circumstances. This statement does not appear to apply when considering the movement of passengers which clearly demonstrates that the two sectors, whilst similar in so many ways, do differ and it is because they differ that we will examine them separately.

It is important when considering effective and efficient operation that we consider, the correct mode for the commodities and not simply how to ensure the mode we do use is used as effectively as possible. Failure to select the most appropriate mode in the first place will certainly ensure inefficiencies throughout the entire supply chain or journey.

Shipping Operations

Shipping covers esturial, coastal, and deep-sea transport.


The strengths are:

  • uncongested transit between two points in the same estuary;

  • high-capacity vessels;

  • dock dues not payable on deliveries to and from import and export vessels in enclosed docks;

  • free time allowed before the incidence of demurrage permits economical use of labour;

  • esturial transport forming part of an international transit (advantage can be made of small vessels).

The weaknesses are:

  • Minimum tonnage :There is a high minimum tonnage figure per barge to be paid, making it unsuitable for small consignments.

  • Specialized terminal equipment : Unless wharf facilities and equipment exist, high capital cost may preclude their provision, unless regular traffic makes this worthwhile in order to take advantage of much lower transport costs.


The strengths are:

  • the low cost of bulk transport by water makes a cheap form of transport, for over 100 tonnes over 150 miles where load and discharge points have access to or near water;

  • for very heavy or large indivisible loads coastwise heavy-lift vessels may provide a better alternative to road or rail, providing load and discharge are convenient to a port.

The weaknesses are:

  • specialised terminal facilities must be available;

  • it is slow compared with rail or road (except perhaps for awkward loads);

  • additional transport costs may be incurred unless private access to a waterway is available;

  • bad weather can delay coastal transit.


The Strengths are:

  • low freight rates;

  • very high capacity;

  • continuous operation (24-hour);

  • less susceptible to adverse weather (fog).

The weaknesses are:

  • relative low speed;

  • possible less frequent service;

  • because of high capacity, time spent loading and discharging can be disproportionate to actual travel time;

  • usually more packing required than air transport.

With deep-sea operation and long voyages, the greatest economy can be obtained by vessel charter, at sole disposal of the charterer with freight rates being agreed. Operation is only available to users who have large quantities of goods to ship, usually of a bulky nature.

The majority of users are best served by liner companies. Freight forwarders use these vessels at published freight rates. Liners operate on a regular scheduled service basis. Containers are the most commonly used packing facility on these services.

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