Freight transport by road is one of the preferred methods of transportation around the world. In 2015 there were 13,841 companies in Spain dedicated to the road freight transport sector, which totaled a turnover of almost 23,000 million euros. What is the reason for this preference on the part of companies? What does road freight transport offer and for what kind of situations is it the best alternative?
Advantages of freight transport by road
Indicated for our distances
Like other types of transport, road freight transport is especially efficient over a certain range of distances. For example, for shipments by rail, we will often need to have to travel a greater number of kilometers through which to be able to monetize the costs of taking the merchandise to the railway and, once at the destination, from the railway to the final point.
However, the radius of action of the road is very suitable for moving material in Spain, where most routes can be covered in a day’s driving, especially if we start from Madrid as the logistics hub (the nerve center of most distribution networks to exchange merchandise). Due to its operational simplicity, the road works best for short and medium distances. However, it is in the long distance where it loses ground in favor of other alternatives such as the train and the boat -or the plane for urgent needs-.
In the previous point we have already commented on one of the aspects in which the transport of goods by road stands out, the greater simplicity of its operation. It is easier to load and/or dispose of a truck than to charter a ship or send a shipment by plane. In addition, the road frequently has the role of facilitator for the rest of the types of transport, and they have to go to it to complete their journeys to the final recipients.
door to door deliveries
In relation to the latter, the transport of goods by road is also the most qualified to complete the shipment from one end to the other. Without the need to resort to others and being able to really reach the recipient. Although this door-to-door factor was already a traditional advantage known in the business world, it has been the development of e-commerce that has made individuals also get used to being the final recipient more frequently.
If road freight transport is king in door-to-door transport, its position is also hegemonic in the rural world. Only the highway is capable of serving areas that would otherwise be deprived of supplies and that are far from railways and airports.
This is a real problem in logistics, since due to the low population density in some areas it is difficult to be able to make the distribution of merchandise profitable in those environments. In this sense, one of the solutions being worked on is, curiously, far from the road: the use of drones. This system could solve, at least on paper, even the absence of roads to reach the destination point.
» The transport of goods by road offers an almost infinite time flexibility»
Again a point related to simplicity. The transport of goods by road requires an initial investment considerably less than that of its ‘brothers’. However, this greater accessibility has also sometimes presented a negative side. And it is that, accompanied by this ease, companies have sometimes emerged that did not reach good quality standards, due to having precarious means. Something that is more difficult to produce in the types of transport that have higher economic barriers to entry.
While planes and ships have tightly set schedules in advance, road freight transport offers almost infinite time flexibility. If you urgently need to send something unforeseen to the other part of the planet, the plane will be your only alternative -even if you have to adapt to their schedules-. However, in short and medium distances, the reaction capacity offered by the highway to organize an express shipment -whether hiring a trailer or a van- is unrivaled.
Traceability and communication
Logistics and supply chains around the world are making a huge effort to improve their traceability. The road has traditionally been a means of transport in which this traceability has been easier, partly due to that simplicity that we have commented so much, having fewer intermediaries than multimodal logistics. But, in addition, it is also easier when at a certain moment you try to talk to the driver of the vehicle to find out any particularity about the status of the shipment, beyond the digitized information that we are recording in our systems.
Challenges of freight transport by road
Despite all these advantages, the road also has its particular problems.
Road distribution is affected daily by traffic problems and road congestion. This has repercussions in various aspects: a higher cost compared to what it would be to carry out the same operation in the absence of traffic jams and the delay in deliveries (which, when accumulated throughout the day in several deliveries, can end up resulting in undelivered goods). That is why urban logistics is such a hot topic today, given the growing volume of goods that are delivered to highly populated urban centers.
For their part, although the rest of the means of transport have their unique characteristics that can lead to delays, they do not have to face traffic jams in the way that the highway does.
lack of drivers
Another challenge facing road freight transport is the growing shortage of professional drivers. This problem has been especially acute in the United States, but little by little it has also begun to appear in Europe. There are various theories to explain this absence, but most tend to agree that it is perceived as a tough profession and that, as it can lead to being away from home, many people do not feel attracted to it.
At Transgesa we are specialized in the transport of goods by road. If you want more information, consult the following link for our logistics services.