How do they work out what route a cargo container will take?

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A cargo container might be placed on a truck, transferred to rail, put on a ship, shipped across the world, unloaded onto another truck then delivered.

This is all going to involve working out where everything is for the most optimum path. So how is this worked out and transmitted to all the people involved?

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Some of this is automated, some is manual.
Getting from country to country is fairly easy. There are only few ports in both source and destination countries that are reasonable. Which ports you use is dependant on what ship gives you the best combination of cost/speed for your needs. Now that you have chosen a ship you have 4 locations and 3 remaining journeys.

Fulfilling location -> shipping port
[Big ass boat]
Receiving port -> destination.

Getting to and from ports: if you are 1-2 days away, you will hire a tractor trailer for this part.

If fulfilling or destination locations are farther away, it’s like a smaller version of the whole. Instead of looking at shipping ports, you are looking at railhead.

Worst case scenario:
Truck picks up at fulfilling, takes to nearest railhead. Train goes directly to port, ship goes to another country, train takes to railhead, truck takes to receiver.

The real complexity is, what if instead of an entire container, I just want to ship a small box?