Shipping analysts project that intermodal shipping demand will grow strongly in 2021, particularly in the second half of the year.
Several factors are driving intermodal growth. In this short article, we’ll examine the influence of:
- Continuing US economic recovery
- Strong consumer demand for goods
- Covid 19 vaccine rollout
- Meeting increasing intermodal demand
Todd Tranausky, vice president at FTR Transportation Intelligence, predicts a 5.4% growth in intermodal volume next year. Manufacturers worldwide are increasing the production of intermodal shipping units and chassis.
Continuing US Economic Recovery
The US economic recovery pace has continued at a slightly slower rate in recent months because of the continuing high momentum of COVID-19 infections and the government’s inability to pass a larger stimulus package.
However, the new $1.9 trillion relief package is certain to pass. It will give the economy the boost it needs to get through the remainder of the pandemic.
Brian Lawson at IHS Markit projects that the slow pace of economic recovery will continue throughout the first half of 2021. In the second half, the economy will break out and enjoy rapid growth for the remainder of the year.
Strong Consumer Demand for Goods
Throughout the pandemic, consumers have driven increasing intermodal demand by shifting away from spending on services to spending on goods because of lockdowns. Retail inventories are unusually low, which means more goods will have to be shipped as retailers restock.
Shipping companies are experiencing a shortage of drivers and the chassis needed to keep up with the increasing demand for goods from consumers stuck at home.
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Drug manufacturers will meet the federal government’s goal of producing 1.5 million vaccine doses daily in February. Most people who want vaccination should have it by midyear.
With the pandemic coming under control, you can expect the economy to pick up strongly in the second half of 2021 as people return to work and businesses get back to full capacity.
Meeting Increased Intermodal Demand
Intermodal and chassis manufacturers worldwide have ramped up production. Both South Korea and China are experiencing container shortages because more goods are being shipped to the US than from it, resulting in a backlog of units stuck in the US.
DHL projects demand will remain strong throughout the first quarter before slackening slightly as increased production catches up in the second quarter. In a somewhat different scenario, the HUB Group forecasts that intermodal demand will remain strong throughout 2021.
Chassis in the US are currently in short supply because of increased demand and the continued deterioration of older chassis that operators haven’t replaced.
As the world’s largest intermodal chassis builder, CIE Manufacturing is continuing to fulfill its vital role in meeting this unprecedented demand for chassis, now through North American production —first at its new east coast plant in Emporia, Virginia, and now at its South Gate, California headquarters.
The new globally sourced, North American made Pioneer line of chassis from CIE Manufacturing is also following up on these trends to meet increased intermodal demand. This line is made in the US to be more durable and longer-lasting, and is customizable with a 5, 7, or 10-year warranty. It features the best components and techniques available, including laser metal cutting, robotic precision welds, and a KTL powder coat paint that resists rust and corrosion.