At first glance, the concept of freight seems simple. Commonly known as the transfer of products or goods from one location to another, freight plays a vital role in our economy by linking manufacturers or providers with customers.

In spite of its simple concept, the freight process is full of complexities. These endless details can become overwhelming to people who are not familiar with the intricacies of the freight industry. Between the wealth of carrier options, different pricing structures, hidden surcharges and potential legal issues, the simplicity of the freight process can get lost.

Fortunately, you can rediscover the simplicity of the freight process and narrow your freight options by considering a few key factors. Before you evaluate your freight options, you should have the following information on hand for your shipment:

*A brief description of the goods that you need to ship. 
*Your shipping destination, including city, state and country.
*The delivery timeframe, including any special deadlines.
*Any special packaging requirements. 
*The size and quantity of the goods being shipped.

Once you have summarized the details of your shipment, you can begin to evaluate the various modes of freight to transport your goods. While there are countless means by which you can choose to transport your goods, the most common types of freight carriers are parcel carriers, LTL freight carriers, TL freight carriers, air freight carriers and ocean freight carriers. 

Parcel carriers deliver envelopes and small parcels such as boxes. Two of the most commonly known parcel carriers are UPS and FedEx. Parcel carriers are ideal for smaller shipments and home deliveries. They are also more widely used by the general public than other modes of shipping.

LTL freight, or less-than-truckload freight, is ideal for shipments that are too large to be accommodated by parcel carriers but too small to fill a 48 foot trailer. LTL freight typically involves the use of a 28 foot trailer to consolidate several smaller shipments from one or more different origins. The consolidation process often considers the destination and delivery requirements. 

TL freight, or truckload freight, is ideal for shipments that weigh more than 15,000 pounds, or which fully occupy a 48 or 53 foot trailer. In most cases, TL shipments are transported to the destination using the same trailer that retrieved the shipment from its origin. Some TL carriers are customized to include a refrigerated trailer or a flatbed surface to accommodate the specific needs outlined by the shipper.

Air freight involves the shipment of goods by airplane or cargo plane. This mode of freight is typically more expensive than other modes of freight and is ideal for international shipments or deliveries with urgent time requirements. Air freight is appropriate for most shipments that can be shipped via LTL, though there may be some height restrictions with some air freight carriers. 

Ocean freight or sea freight is ideal for large shipments that are shipping from one hemisphere to another or which must cross a large body of water. Goods are typically housed within a shipping container and then loaded onto a vessel such as a barge or ocean liner. This mode of freight is typically less costly than air freight but is much more time-consuming. 

Once the mode of freight is selected, the shipper can compare pricing offered by various carriers and book the shipment. When comparing freight quotes, it is important to ensure that all variables (such as insurance, pickup fees and fuel charges) are constant and delivery tracking information is easily accessible. By following these steps, you will be able to rediscover the simplicity of the freight process.