Transportation concerns the movement of products from a source—such as a plant, factory, or work-shop—to a destination—such as a warehouse, customer, or retail store. Transportation may take place via air, water, rail, road, pipeline, or cable routes, using planes, boats, trains, trucks, and telecommunications equipment as the means of transportation. The goal for any business owner is to minimize transportation costs while also meeting demand for products. Transportation costs generally depend upon the distance between the source and the destination, the means of transportation chosen, and the size and quantity of the product to be shipped.
The decisions a business owner must make regarding transportation of products are closely related to a number of other distribution issues. For example, the accessibility of suitable means of transportation factors into decisions regarding where best to locate a business or facility. The means of transportation chosen will also affect decisions regarding the form of packing used for products and the size or frequency of shipments made. Although transportation costs may be reduced by sending larger shipments less frequently, it is also necessary to consider the costs of holding extra inventory. The interrelationship of these decisions means that successful planning and scheduling can help business owners to save on transportation costs.