What is combined transport and when should it be used? - Authorized Movers

What is combined transport and when should it be used?


We have two fundamental elements which are involved in any combined transport and which are the basis of its efficiency and profitability. On the one hand, Transport equipment: containers that can move from one means of transport to another. On the other the singular points. These are defined by their extreme suitability for loading, unloading or switching between modes.

combined transport

Where does combined transport come from? From the claim of extend the door-to-door system typical of the road. Its reach today reaches great distances and even between continents. The trucks are then joined by high-capacity modes of transport – rail or boat. Of course, always without giving up the advantages of distribution of land transport modes. The most capillary functions are used, for a precise collaboration between the modes.

The system is always looking for and improving elements that facilitate the loading, transhipment, storage and handling of goods. In addition, increasingly specific and sophisticated facilities are being designed, in which teams, vehicles and the organization can move and operate in the best possible conditions.

Organization within containers

It is important to note that the organization within containers that change transport must be very rigorous. We not only need to save space, but also we guarantee the maximum safety of the goods. For this, we use dunnage, also called spacers. We can use it normally:

  • In empty spaces to minimize movement and the risk of falling goods during the journey.
  • As a filling between products to separate them and avoid the risk of one group of products coming into contact with another, as well as to prevent them from falling apart or losing their consistency.
  • Between the cargo and the sides of the container.
  • On top of the cargo to prevent condensation on the top of the container from damaging it.
  • On the ground to absorb moisture and maintain the safety of goods that may be sensitive to it, such as rice or coffee beans.

When to use this type of transport?

Multimodal transport should be used for large loads, which must travel long distances. Heavy, resistant and manoeuvrable equipment is available for this. Therefore, they are naturally expensive. Its infrastructure requires large porticos for income and expenditure, as well as large spaces and areas essential for movement. It is a type of transport recommended for large quantities, or products whose sale will bring us a good profit.

In addition, its use is recommended between countries that have international conventions, like Mercosur. One of its main applications, since this system was designed, is long distances. This is why a strong international collaboration had to be put in place to ensure that all transport equipment can be handled anywhere in the world.

Agreements may be between distant countries, but they will always have universal standards in procedures and forms. For this reason, systems such as the Incoterms DDP which includes the famous.

Advantages of combined transport

  • Decongestion of the road and motorway network. Thanks to the installation of large containers, and their space management, reduce the number of trucks.
  • Use of railway infrastructure. In countries with a functioning infrastructure, this is very useful. It also helps to relieve congestion on networks, roads and highways.
  • Environmental protection. By reducing vehicles, we reduce our emissions of carbon and gases that are harmful to the ecosystem.
  • Higher economic efficiency. Combined transport means a great savings. First of all, money: we don’t have to spend labor on loading and unloading every transshipment. We also don’t have to spend a lot of transport, drivers and energy, because it is optimized in space and vehicles. Second, we have a time saving– Standardized transhipments minimize all the setbacks of other modes of transport.

combined transport

Types of systems

  • Roll-on roll-off system. Maritime-road or maritime-rail system. In it, vehicles can enter and exit the ship on their own, thus avoiding auxiliary loading means. The equipment used can be of all types: wagons, trucks, trailers, semi-trailers, swap bodies, etc.
  • Unrolling. It occurs when there is a specific sea crossing. This can be the use of a ferry or vessels called ro-ro or multi-purpose. These transport all types of rail or road vehicle.
  • Piggyback. System used in combined rail-road transport in which the railroad carries road vehicles. In these, the railway is used as a rolling highway.
  • Transport in container or swap body. Thanks to this, combined rail-ship, rail-road and road-ship transport can be carried out. It consists of the transport of containers or swap bodies and their handling between the different modes of transport in order to transport them from origin to destination. Loading, loading and exchange facilities are expensive.


Combined transport offers many advantages in terms of convenience. This results in a a better experience in all parts of the supply chain. And that’s what we aim to Trade Journal: to guarantee the best experience for our customers. Contact us, and let’s start this long distance adventure!


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