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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Transportation Solutions for Your Business

Consumers don't usually think about where their goods come from. If the average person needs something, they either go to the appropriate store to purchase the desired item or they go online and order it. The only thought that goes into shipping is speed and cost.

As a business owner, you've got a lot on your plate. First and foremost, you've got a product to sell. Even the best products are constantly evolving to meet consumer need, so ongoing research and development is a must. Next, there's marketing and promotion to think about. Then there's your sales force to oversee. If all that wasn't enough, there's the human resources aspect of your business to deal with, including hiring and firing, employee training and everything else having employees entails. Let's not forget payroll, accounting, compliance and all the day to day operations details running a business requires. It's enough to make even the most organized business owner's head spin. On top of all that, there's also your supply chain to think about. The goods and/or raw materials to make your product have to come from somewhere, and if you ship your product, that aspect of your supply chain is equally important. Speaking of shipping, there are a wide variety of options you might not be aware of. Transportation services are a major component of most successful businesses. Read on to discover just what services are available to meet your transportation logistics needs.

* Worldwide air charter. Companies such as Landstar System, Inc. offer door to door pickup and delivery service regardless of type, size, origin or destination of your cargo. Real-time comprehensive shipment tracking is available for verification of destination-critical or time-sensitive shipments. Planes used range from the relatively small - think Lear jet - to the extremely large - think the Antonov AN-124.

* Ocean freight. Shipping via ocean freight can be complicated. However, a reputable company will offer not only shipping services but will also oversee all risk marine insurance placement, customs clearance, local dray and customs classifications, and information technology services. The company should also file export declarations as well as arrange pickup and delivery at inland points as necessary.

* Border crossing. If you have a shipment that needs to go north to Canada or south to Mexico, services are available by air, land or sea via a variety of modes of transportation. For Canada-bound shipments, the company should use FAST (Free And Secure Trade) certified owner-operators, offers bilingual services and can invoice Canadian funds. For shipments headed south of the border, also look for a company with bilingual services in addition to holding interchange agreements with Mexican carriers. No matter where your shipment is going, be sure the company you choose is Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) certified.

* Customs brokerage. When it comes to customs brokerage, there is a veritable alphabet soup of certifications, qualifications and memberships a reputable transportation company can and should have. However, what you need to know is that the company you choose should be well versed in export and import compliance, local rules and regulations, and all the best practices of international trade.

* Emergency/expedited. Depending on your business or the situation, transportation becomes a deadly serious game of beat the clock. When you need this type of time-definite service, you need a transportation company with the resources, infrastructure and emergency logistics to get the job done. Choose a company that provides a variety of transportation modes appropriate for the situation in addition to a system in place to link you and the service provider to ensure your cargo arrives exactly when and where it needs to.

* Truckload or LTL. Trucking is an extremely well known and reliable way to transport cargo. HoweverFree Reprint Articles, sometimes you might not need an entire truck. That's where LTL (less than a truckload) comes into play. Vans and flatbeds offer an ideal alternative for smaller cargo.

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David M. Shaw is a transportation logistics expert and contributing writer who enjoys helping connect businesses with the best service providers.

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