A transport chain covers all partial routes of a transport which usually covers longer distances, is processed with different means of traffic, and requires the goods to be loaded multiple times. It is thus a network of modes of transport and means of transport meant to ensure the transport of people or goods from A to B.
The term usually refers to an interrupted transport during which multiple modes of transport are used. Nevertheless, a transport chain can also have only one mode of transport. Without at least one transshipment, the transport is a direct transport, which, per definition, is not a transport chain (or it is a “transport chain” with only one link). A special type of transport chain is combined traffic, where goods are transshipped without dissolution of loading units.
Among other things, the goal is to keep the transport time and costs as short and low as possible, and to ensure high transport reliability. This is to be realised through the ideal combination of the modes of transport. Reasons for a transport chain are, for example, overseas deliveries. Furthermore, combined transport can oftentimes prove to be more ecological, cheaper or faster.
In most cases, a transport chain has three parts:
- Pre-carriage: The goods are transported from different senders to the transshipment terminal (usually by truck/local transport).
- Main carriage: At the transshipment terminal, the goods are collected, grouped and loaded onto the next means of transport (usually long-distance transport). Then, the consignments are transported to the destination terminal.
- On-carriage: The goods are loaded at the destination terminal and delivered to the receivers (usually by truck/local transport).
In the CarLo inAIR&SEA for air and sea freight management module, transport chains with multiple links can be planned, monitored and organised, regardless of the means of transport used. The division into pre-, main and on-carriage is also included in the standard version of the software.