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Types of Transportation Businesses

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There are many types of transportation businesses. The logistics-style ones usually specialize in a certain form of transportation.

There are many different types of transportation businesses. To put it crudely, these business are organized on relatively simple concepts: who or what you are transporting, and how much of it. Almost all businesses (but most particularly the larger ones) require some sort of transportation business to support them, and this sort of support is known as logistics.

Logistics formally began with the military. It was necessary in World War I, but it was essential to have a formal logistics command structure in World War II, because the materiel demands were so high. In the American Army, this was referred to as S.O.S., or Services of Supply. Together, these soldiers fed, clothed and supported millions of American soldiers throughout the conflict.

Today, logistics services are fairly simple to understand. Each type of logistical transportation business is a specialist in a certain field. Bekins, for example, is a trucking giant. CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific transport using rail. Rail is most useful for transporting large quantities of raw materials such as rock, coal, sulfur, mulch, and whatever else is sold in quantity. The Army also often relies on rail to transport things like tanks in CONUS (Continental United States) that would otherwise destroy civilian roads. Recently at the CSX Augusta yard, I saw a power generator turbine being moved on a rail car that would have been impossible both in size and weight to transport by truck. Most trucks can only legally move 80,000 pounds, but many rail cars have a maximum weight tolerance of 200,000 pounds! This means that trains with 2 to 4 engines are pulling millions and tens of millions of pounds.

Trucking transportation businesses are better for moving loads to specific locations accessible by road. Rail transport is 2 or 3 times more efficient than trucking, but trucking transportation has a niche because not every business needs mass-scale solutions to their problems. WalMart, for example, turns over more inventory than just about anybody, but it has little use for rail outside of its major distribution. This is because it is shipping millions of different products and not much in the way of raw material. Also, building and maintaining rail is very expensive because of the federal mandates regarding rail passage, and it is much cheaper to receive trucks.

Shipping businesses are a type of transportation business as well. Services like U.S.P.S., U.P.S., D.H.L., and FedEx all receive, send, and deliver mailable packages with their services. In the loose definition of transportation of something from one location to another, taxi drivers are another type of transportation business.

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Dustin LaBarge

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