What is Transportation?
Well, I asked John Cole one of our transport experts, exactly that question, and a few others related to transport!
I hope his answers help you.
How Would you Define “Transport” and Transportation?
In a supply chain, it’s the movement of goods from one location to another.
As an example, one location might be the place where you source raw materials or where you source goods from a manufacturing facility. We call such a location a node in the supply chain. There is then a series of such nodes or locations to finally get to the end customer.
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Transportation is moving whatever comes out of one location to the next location. That might mean transporting something from a manufacturer to a distributor, or from a distributor to a customer.
Whether you call it transport or transportation just depends on which country you come from. In America, they tend to use the word “transportation” more.
What can you Say about Other Terms Used In the Freight Transport Sector?
The terms used sometimes overlap in their meaning. Depending on the context or the person who’s using them, they may mean the same thing or something different. Often, there’s no absolute right or wrong.
Examples of similarity or overlap include “transport” or “transportation”, “freight” or “haulage” and “line haul” or “distribution”, for example.
It may be important to differentiate in some cases. “Line haul” for instance is moving goods or materials between cities or states, and is different to local distribution, which is moving something within the same city or locality.
Delivery of goods to your home from a local store is an example of local distribution. On the other hand, moving the same goods in bulk and over long distances is line haul. By the way, that’s the name used in America and Australia; in Europe, it’s referred to as “trunking”.
What About the “Last Mile” We Keep Hearing About?
Yes, last mile is another transport-related term that’s become commonly used in recent years, mostly since the emergence of online retail and subsequently, multi-channel distribution.
When you hear reference made to last mile transportation, or distribution, it simply means the transportation of goods from the final node of the supply chain into the hands of the end customer.
Mostly it relates to consumer home delivery, with the last mile being the trip from a warehouse, distribution centre, or even retail-store stockroom to the consumer’s front door. However, in the case of click-and-collect sales, where the consumer picks up her order from a retail outlet, the last mile is the trip from distribution centre to retail outlet.
Learn More about Transportation in the Supply Chain
John did a great job of clearing up some of the ambiguity about transport and transportation, but there’s a lot more to know if you’re new to the supply chain world.
For a regular dose of supply chain information and insight, remember to keep visiting our blog, along with those published by the other companies in the Logistics Bureau Group.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2012, and has now been revamped and updated with more comprehensive information.
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