What is Intermodal Shipping?
Intermodal shipping is a popular alternative to traditional options such as rail shipping. It involves using a mix of transportation methods that improve efficiency and get shipments to their destinations cheaper and faster. As competition increases, supply chain managers are increasingly choosing intermodal shipping to move goods through a variety of means such as OTR and rail.
Benefits of Intermodal Shipping
1. Lower costs
The first and foremost benefit for intermodal shipping is costs. As supply chain teams can now pick and choose a variety of transportation methods, they can optimize the overall cost of delivery. For example, using rail lines is cheaper to use than trucking, and then trucking can cover any remaining distance rail lines can’t do. This usually translates to lower fuel usage and hence savings.
2. Greater access to capacity
The shortage of drivers and increased regulation around capacity mean that intermodal shipping allows supply chain teams to tap into greater capacity alternatives such as cargo ships or rail compared to using just one option like trucking.
3. Environmentally friendly
Another popular reason for supply chain teams to adopt intermodal shipping is the reduced carbon footprint in their logistics process. Using options such as rail can shorten distance and fuel usage, both of which makes it a more environmentally friendly option. One study has shown that moving freight by rail is four times more fuel efficient than by land.
4. Similar transit times
If we take rail as an example, movement through rail can yield similar transit times end to end compared to other alternatives. This is due to the boost in infrastructure development, technology improvements, and logistical efficiencies that have occured in recent years in various geographies.
5. Better security
Intermodal shipping also provides added security as freight goods are rarely interchanged between different transport mediums. The container is merely moved from one form to another. This ensures less chances of theft, misplacement, or damage occurring. Most intermodal shipping processes also ensure accurate tracking due to this lack of exchange between unknown or intermediary third parties.
Intermodal shipping can save a company time and money, and improve overall logistical and supply chain operations. It’s considered one of the best ways to move freight end to end from origin to destination.