One of the most important aspects of your business’s supply chain is shipping and transportation. Moving finished products, raw materials, and other types of large shipments are essential for many companies and without a well-implemented shipping strategy, these businesses would not be able to operate. How you ship your products and the methods you use are also of key importance as different shipping methods have associated time frames, costs, and externalities you have to consider. One shipping method that has grown in popularity in recent years is the use of intermodal rail shipping. Here is an explanation of what intermodal rail shipping is and why you should consider it for your business.
Intermodal Rail Shipping Defined
Intermodal rail shipping is an integrated supply chain methodology that combines two or more types of transportation to move goods from one location to the next. In intermodal rail shipping, large containers and truck trailers see common use. The most common shipping methods used in intermodal rail shipping are rail, sea, and truck. This type of shipping has seen more widespread use and has been the fastest-growing segment of rail traffic over the last 25 years. In addition, the volume of goods shipped continues to grow year to year. Intermodal rail shipping is also a key part of international trade due to its ability to move large amounts of goods efficiently.
Six Advantages of Intermodal Rail Shipping
Some of the advantages of intermodal rail shipping include.
1. Cost Efficiency:
When using intermodal rail shipping, you can take advantage of the lower cost of rail shipping. Using both rail and truck transport is far more affordable than using trucks alone. A key reason for this efficiency is that shipping containers transported via rail can be double-stacked, allowing large amounts of stock to be moved without having to use a bigger train car. This increased efficiency can help save on company overhead.
2. Shipping Efficacy:
When shipping a large amount of freight a long way, intermodal rail shipping can greatly streamline the process. A single train has as much transport capacity as 280 trucks. Plus, by using rail, you avoid common issues encountered on roads and interstates such as automobile accidents and traffic delays. Trains have also seen technological advancements and are faster and can unload stock quite quickly.
3. Reduced Fuel Costs:
Rail shipping is highly fuel efficient. A gallon of fuel can move a ton of goods roughly 400 miles via rail. With fuel prices climbing year-to-year and any possible supply issues with diesel fuels used in trucking shipments, the use of rail shipping have become quite practical.
4. Improved Safety:
By using containers for intermodal rail shipping, your freight is safely secured and doesn’t have to be handled. Other safety advantages can include railroad police, GPS tracking, and other oversight that the rail industry provides. This high level of security also makes Intermodal rail shipping ideal for international shipping as it keeps your goods safe from beginning to end.
5. It’s Flexible:
While intermodal rail shipping is commonly used for larger bulk shipments, you can use it for other things. You can ship almost anything such as fertilizers, food, various mechanical parts, automobiles, fuel, chemicals, construction equipment, and various consumer goods. If you have a lot of freight (or a variety of freight), intermodal rail shipping can save you money.
6. It’s a Growing Shipping Method:
Since its development in the 1950s intermodal rail shipping has grown immensely as the rail network has grown and has been improved upon. Notable trade hubs include Los Angeles and Chicago.
When reviewing your supply chain methods, be sure to review how your company is handling shipping. Improved methods and the use of intermodal rail shipping can improve your overall efficacy, save you money, and reduce overhead.