World's leading companies in the logistics industry - sales 2018

The top three logistics companies worldwide in 2018 operated as air couriers, with Deutsche Post generating the most revenue from sales with over 72 billion U.S. dollars. Worldwide revenue of air cargo surpasses 111 billion U.S. dollars annually. Logistics companies are responsible for managing the flow of goods from one point to another; this includes not only the transportation of cargo but also the packaging and warehousing of such goods. In some cases, logistics companies may specialize in certain modes of transportation, namely, air, rail, road, and sea. The only rail freight company in this list is Union Pacific.

Rail freight in a road freight world

Union Pacific has routes all the way back to the U.S. civil war when Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act in 1862. The transcontinental railway - erected to connect railroad tracks in Iowa with the Pacific coast - was instrumental in accelerating the U.S. economy. Since then, extensive highways have been built and now trucks are the dominant carrier of freight, carrying nearly a factor ten more cargo than rail. Against all odds, Union Pacific is still a major company in the United States. The most famous member of the Union fleet is “Big Boy”, a coal powered steam engine locomotive, of which there are seven still standing.

Planes, trains, ships, and other modes of transport

Transporting heavy cargo is very inefficient by airplane and so it is reserved for rail freight or large container ships. The largest container ships in the world can carry over 22,000 twenty-foot standardized shipping containers. Such containers enable the transport of physical goods across different transport modes, hence the nickname intermodal containers. Despite emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide, these megaships are the most efficient mode of transport per unit weight of cargo. Seaborne vessels transport roughly 11 billion tons of cargo annually compared to 60 million tons by air.
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World's leading companies in the logistics industry in 2018, based on sales
(in billion U.S. dollars)
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