What is Intermodal Transportation?
Intermodal shipping involves moving goods between point A to point B using more than one method of transportation. Goods are moved between truck, ship, and rail within a single trip. It is a popular logistical strategy for companies that are moving a single large item or multiple bulk products that are inside shipping containers. Here are the five benefits on why many companies use this shipping tactic.
Benefits of Intermodal Transportation
Larger Capacity Access
Rail yards and ships can carry numerous shipping containers at one time, which are usually stacked on vessels or railcars. Also, since shipping containers are used, companies can load the 20-foot to 53-foot steel boxes entirely with goods. Because drayage shipping is typically limited to 100 miles, truck drivers can move more loads in a single day. Intermodal trucking offers fast turnaround rates for shipments when a shipper is dealing with limited truck capacity, multiple customer orders, or driver shortages.
A company seeking to reduce costs will turn to using intermodal freight shipping that utilizes rail transportation. With rail, there are cost reductions for fuel as this is the most fuel-efficient land transportation strategy. Freight is constantly moving with little stoppage unlike truck lanes that must deal with traffic congestion. Companies also take advantage of the lower handling costs. Once goods are loaded into shipping containers, they are not unloaded until reaching their destination. Lastly, the cost per ton to move freight by rail is reduced to offer cost efficiency.
There are several safety advantages when it comes to using intermodal transportation methods. With goods packed within secure containers, there is less likelihood of accidents, damages, or theft since the products will not be touched again until they are unloaded at the destination. Rail yards have high security measures as they utilize railroad police to monitor container movement and use a wide variety of security methods along ramps, docks, and terminals.
In addition, freight is constantly moving with little stoppage along rail lines as trains typically experience fewer accidents. With trucks, they must deal with road congestion and unsafe car drivers. In addition, loads can be left alone when using truck transportation, which may lead to possible theft of the container's items.
Enhanced Container Visibility
With the growing demand of supply chain visibility from customers who want real-time updates of their container's movements, increased container visibility is one of many advantages of intermodal transportation. Each shipping container becomes scanned at every port and intermodal ramp when loading and unloading shipping containers. This method allows for easier and up-to-date tracking for every shipment as this information can then be relayed to the customer who can prepare for the shipment's arrival.
When looking to reduce the environmental impact that shipping can cost, intermodal strategies utilize the efficiencies that can be found with rail transportation. Rail transport can move more freight while using less fuel per trip because a single ton of freight can move roughly 450 miles while using just one gallon of fuel. Also, rail cars can move up to 280 truckloads of goods to a destination. Railroads are the most efficient and sustainable form of land transportation that is available to shippers.
For customers who are looking to leverage an efficient supply chain, intermodal transportation is a viable logistical method. You can more easily plan out shipping routes to any destination by taking advantage of multiple modes of transportation during a single trip. This strategy can allow you to speed up shipments while lowering fuel costs, increasing container safety, and having constant container movement visibility. For more information regarding the benefits of intermodal transportation reach out to GP Transco.