Maritime Routes

The shipping industry remains one of the world’s most vital and most valuable industries. In 2019, the world shipping trade valued at over 14 trillion US dollars. More importantly, shipping plays a crucial role in moving resources, impacting food, clothing, and even jobs in other industries.

Since a lot depends on global shipping maritime routes, keeping every travel route secure and optimized is essential. If you’re in the marine transport sector, here are the three types of maritime routes to help you and your shipments.


1. Port-to-Port Maritime Routes

As the name suggests, this ocean shipping maritime route refers to a direct transfer from one point to another. This is the preferred route for industries with a unidirectional logistical requirement, such as the first location supplying to the second location. This is the most common routing strategy if your haul is limited to raw materials such as oil, minerals, rubber, cotton, wood, etc.


Port-to-port routing essentially connects supply and demand. It facilitates material delivery by linking material extraction points to the location of consumption markets. This route works by having ships load in the first location, then unload to at least one destination port. It is important to note that succeeding drop-off points are usually close to port-to-port maritime routes.


If your ocean transport company doesn’t have a fixed transport range or delivery network, you can offer port-to-port services. However, this arrangement often depends on the volatile and seasonal demand for shipping needs.


Since it caters to a single-direction movement of resources, the main concern for shippers plying this route is deadheading. Ships are usually filled to capacity during the delivery process, making it ideal for bulk freight shipping requirements. However, after unloading at the destination port, ships typically return to their port of origin with an empty backhaul.

The overhead costs of deadheading are usually discussed between the shipper and the entity that chartered the travel. It is crucial to clarify coverage because the ship continues to consume resources without active utility for either party.


blue and red cargo ship on dock during daytime

2. Inter-Range Routes

Inter-range refers to regular transport networks servicing a larger area. It is ideal for cargo ships that move different items across different locations. It has a longer overall travel time and more port calls, although it is more stable in terms of profit for the shipping or logistics company.


Under this configuration, there is a regular travel schedule between two seaboards. A ship services several ports, all located in a single range. It then crosses the ocean to service another set of ports on a different seaboard. For example, a cargo ship would load up on the first port on the North American Atlantic seaboard. It will drop some of its load to a second port on the same seaboard while picking up new cargo to be dropped off.


Once the ship is done with the North American Atlantic seaboard, it will then cross the ocean and perform the same services with different ports on the Western European seaboard. After this, the ship returns to its initial location, often with backhaul, continuing the cycle of marine transport.


Based on the example above, inter-range maritime routes allow shipping companies to optimize every travel by servicing multiple ports with viable trade opportunities. Since ships in this network regularly cater to the movement of resources between two ranges, there is more business opportunity. Furthermore, unlike in simple port-to-port arrangements, deadheading is largely minimized.


Also, inter-range shippers usually cater to various clients, each entrusting their respective cargo in containers. This requires the shipping company to maintain an orderly itinerary and planning strategy to ensure that every pick-up and drop-off at every network port is met.


A great example of inter-range port servicing is Maersk, an integrated logistics solutions provider and one of the world’s largest container shipping lines. It services the world’s major freight markets with a focus on three ranges:

  • Western Europe, through the Atlantic and Mediterranean facades
  • North America, through the Atlantic and Pacific facades
  • Asia, through the Pacific facade.


3. Multi-Range Routes

This arrangement has the most port calls and the longest travel time. Multi-range maritime routes often involve a circum-equatorial trip around the world–going almost all across the globe, usually passing through equatorial routes. As the name suggests, it caters to more than two ranges. Ships usually service fewer ports for every seaboard, with clients consolidating their freight in a major transshipment hub. These are often located on ports of greater importance.


A shipping route that services three different ranges is commonly known as a pendulum route. It might be the entirety of a course or a part of a more extensive route. Basically, a multi-range path works the same as an inter-range transport arrangement, only extended to a series of more seaboards.


From the example above, Maersk can be considered a multi-range shipping line if they continuously service the above ranges. Say, it starts from the Mediterranean facade and crosses the Atlantic to service the eastern seaboard of North America. The ship can then pass through the Panama Canal to serve the western Pacific front before crossing the ocean to reach the Asian ports.



Final Word on Maritime Routes

Maritime transport is an incredibly challenging field, regardless of your position. Although modern technology has provided logistics companies with the insight they need, there remain many issues that need to be addressed. Planning which maritime routes configuration works best for your business allows you to optimize your resources and prepare well for every trip.


To deliver your shipments safely and accurately, consider adopting the latest ocean intelligence platforms. Regardless of the particular maritime shipping business, keeping your vessels and your crew equipped with the latest weather and routing systems is essential.


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