Limited Truck Capacity Makes Intermodal An Attractive Transportation Alternative

May 25th, 2011 - by stevejr

By Stephen Hamilton, Managing Director, ChemLogix Global

With the continuing competition to contract quality truckers to transport products across country, Intermodal freight shipping provides an attractive transportation alternative to OTR trucking for shipments over 750 miles. Offering economic and environment benefits, in addition to addressing the capacity crunch of available truckers, Intermodal combines the resources of different transportation modes, such as trucking and rail, to get products from the warehouse to their final destination.

As the seasonal increase in chemical shipments begins, the surge in freight volumes cannot be addressed by available fleets. In February, FTR Associates (an industry leader in logistics forecasting) lowered its shipper’s conditions to reflect tightening carrier capacity, particularly in the truckload sector. Noel Perry, FTR managing director and senior consultant, predicts a shortage of 215,000 drivers by the end of this year.

In the competition to retain carriers, shippers will most likely pay a premium for available truckers. They may also find themselves scrambling to find new resources to satisfy additional shipping requirement. Intermodal freight shipping can help alleviate the costs and problems associated with today’s limited capacity associated with OTR trucking.

Intermodal helps lower transportation costs by allowing each mode to be used for the portion of the trip to which it is best suited. An intermodal container makes it possible to change shipment methods, whether it is truck, rail or ship, without individual freight handling. Freight essentially can be efficiently shipped door to door.

Intermodal freight shipping also helps reduce traffic congestion and accidents as well as the burden on overstressed infrastructures. One intermodal train replaces 280 trucks while saving nearly 20% in shipping costs. Three times more fuel efficient than trucks, Intermodal also reduces energy consumption, contributing to improved air quality and environmental conditions. Nearly one billion gallons of fuel can be saved each year just by moving 10 percent of long-haul freight from truck to rail, according to a study by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Railroads also are the safest way to transport hazardous materials. While railroads and trucks carry roughly equal hazmat ton-mileage, trucks have nearly 16 times more hazmat releases than railroads, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Is Intermodal transportation right for your company? If you ship products over 750 miles, then you might be a prime candidate. Before you take on this new venture, contact an experienced third party logistics specialist that can evaluate your business situation and opportunities associated with Intermodal transportation. Find a 3PL, like ChemLogix, that offers specialized expertise in the chemical industry and knows how to cost-effectively use intermodal to ship both hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals on an international basis.

Have questions? Direct them to our comments section or contact CLX Logistics at (215) 461-3800. Published articles on Intermodal transportation also can be found on our new Blog.

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