Posts Tagged ‘intermodal’

YouTube Video Discusses Advantages of ISO Tanks to Transport Chemicals

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Check out our first in a series of videos on important logistics topics of interest to chemical shippers.

Stephen Hamilton, Managing Director of ChemLogix Global, discusses how BulkTainer ISO tanks offer enhanced safety and security for shipping chemicals by taking chemicals off roadways and reducing the incidence of accidents. Click Here.

Top Five Benefits of ISO Tank Containers vs. OTR Tank Truck

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Intermodal transportation is a hot topic these days as chemical shippers look for ways to reduce costs, carbon footprint and freight safety concerns. When considering the merits of intermodal transportation, chemical shippers should also consider the benefits offered by ISO tank containers associated with this mode of transportation. While Over The Road (OTR) tank trucks still dominate the roadways in transporting liquid chemical freight, ISO tank containers are becoming more widely used as shippers convert to intermodal to transport freight through a combination of truck, rail and sea.

The following are major benefits that ISO tank containers offer over OTR tank trucks in the transport of freight:

  1. Greener. The International Tank Container Organisation reported that intermodal tank containers leave a carbon footprint that is almost 50 per cent less than that of an equivalent drummed shipment on certain long-haul routes.  Using intermodal transportation also saves fuel and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 70%, especially on hauls over 950 miles.  This may be a major factor to consider as chemical shippers must find ways to reduce carbon footprint to meet future government mandates.
  2. Safer. On long hauls, OTR tank trucks often must travel through bad weather, causing unsafe driving conditions that lead to accidents and delays.  Vehicles often park at unsecured rest stops and have the potential for mechanical breakdowns. Shipping freight via intermodal using ISO tank containers eliminates these issues.   As containers are marked with a unique BIC code, they can be easily ID’d and tracked.  And even heavy ISO tank containers are unlikely to cause mechanical failure on trains and ships and are safer when in transit.
  3. Cheaper. Using ISO tank containers via intermodal as a mode of transportation instead of OTR can also help save 20 – 30% in transportation costs, depending on distance and volume of freight.
  4. Easy Storage. While ISO tank containers can easily be stored at the consignee, OTR tank trucks often must be returned to their point of origin, which for long hauls may be thousands of miles away. Delivering an ISO tank via intermodal to a consignee is generally a local delivery. No driver layovers!
  5. Greater Flexibility. If the customer decides at the last minute that they want to delay a freight delivery for a couple of days, tanks can be left at a local storage yard. If the load came via OTR truck, the customer would have to take delivery on the scheduled date. Also, as previously noted, one container can transport the same freight by ship, truck and train as part of a single journey without unloading.

Higher Ocean Carrier Rates/Unreliable Service Will Challenge

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Last year, ocean freight rates increased dramatically as ocean carriers tried to recover from devastating profit loss.   As carriers reduced capacity by taking vessels out of service, space on existing vessels became very limited.  As a result, shippers had to pay rates higher than contracted to move cargo.  Ocean freight contracts signed in 2009 essentially became worthless.

Market indicators predict that ocean freight rates will continue to rise in 2010.  While capacity is expected to increase slightly, carriers will add capacity only if they see sustained market growth.  Equipment shortages will also challenge shippers, especially those located in Midland America.  That’s because carriers continue to find it more economical to return empty containers to Asia and pick up new cargo rather than allowing those containers to move inland.

In addition to higher rates, carrier on-time performance created problems for shippers in 2009 with on-time delivery reported at a dismal 55%!  Most delays can be explained by service changes and slow steaming as carriers looked to conserve fuel. Continued poor on-time carrier performance may lead to increased inventory or stock outs as variability in delivery increases over the year.

So, for 2010, how will shippers react?  Will they sign long-term contracts or just extend current contracts until the market stabilizes?  Will carriers, again, continue to increase rates or will competitive forces stabilize rates?  My bet is rates will rise and 2010 will again be a year of challenge.

Trouble in Mexico Causes Havoc when Shipping South of the Border.

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
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The narco-wars in Mexico are all over the news these days and are causing US shippers to re-think how they get goods to and from Mexico. Lost in the attention grabbing headlines are some other issues that are wreaking havoc with trans-border shipping including the US govt’s refusal to allow Mexican truckers on US roads, increased delays with customs at the border, bandits along the north-south trucking routes as well as atrocious road conditions.

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There has to be a better way to move products between the US and Mexico, no? Well there is, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why more shippers aren’t using it. It’s intermodal in-bond on the railroads. Basically, it just means putting your goods in a container and shipping via rail from a US point to a Mexican point (or vice versa) without stopping at the border. It eliminates the worries that shippers have regarding all the issues at the Mexican border towns as well as the customs delays. And to top it all off, it’s cheaper than trucking! Transit time on the rail from Chicago to Mexico City is between 4 and 6 days, so taking into account all the delays at the border, it’s actually about the same transit time as truck.

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We’ve been using this service for over a year and it has been flawless. We take loaded containers to the UP railroad in Chicago, send the appropriate customs docs to the railroad’s forwarder, it clears US customs and starts down to Mexico City. Four days later the container arrives at the Pantaco yard in Mexico City, where it clears Mexican customs. No delays at the border, no loss of product to highway accidents or to hijackers. This mode of trans-border transportation works well for bulk commodities in tank containers as well as traditional packaged freight in box containers. We have an easier time doing these cross-border deliveries than we do for some intra-US moves. One other positive gained from shipping products this way is that it is much kinder to the environment 28 Weeks Later .

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So to sum up, shipping intermodal inbond between the US and Mexico is cheaper, safer and cleaner.

Intermodal Transportation: A Cost Effective and Green Shipping Option

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

As chemical companies search for new ways to reduce costs, various transportation mode options should be evaluated.   While trucking remains the most dominant mode of moving product domestically, intermodal freight transport (combination of truck and rail) offers opportunities for freight savings, especially when shipping products across the country.

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An underutilized transportation mode, intermodal is proven to cut costs and save fuel, while protecting the environment by reducing emissions. As railways operate more fuel-efficiently than trucks, intermodal transportation also can help reduce a company’s carbon footprint. Faeries dvdrip

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To determine if intermodal transportation is an option for your enterprise, business unit leaders should collaborate with their logistics  group or third-party consultants to evaluate supply chain strategies. Engaging the sales and marketing stakeholders early in the planning process is essential for the adoption of change and development of appropriate customer value scenarios. Typically, the longer the haul, the more cost effective intermodal transportation over alternative freight shipment modes.  However, modified lead times, resulting in new re-ordering points, may be trade–offs that must be considered with your customer base.  It typically takes 8 days to cross the country using intermodal methods.  As rail carriers work to improve shipping schedules, reduce loading and unloading times, and increase the number of lanes to support multiple delivery locations, intermodal transportation is worth another look when evaluating your transportation options. At the same time, you’ll be supporting the reduction of carbon emissions, an initiative all companies are now considering to support “green” campaigns.

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I welcome your feedback on experiences you’ve had with intermodal.


Red Mist aka Freakdog

Chemical Transportation and the Banking Crisis

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

When was the last time you went to a bank to address your transportation needs? It may sound like a silly question, but in reality, banks are playing an increasing role in transportation and logistics.

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Swordfish on dvd You wouldn’t go to a 3PL 007 Casino Royale divx to open up a savings account, yet chemical companies trust their freight payment needs to banks like JP Morgan, Cass and US Bank.  Banks may be good at paying invoices but their focus is primarily on transactions, hence they lack the experience and domain knowledge necessary to help companies maximize savings on their transportation expenditures. This problem is compounded in the chemical industry where transportation in many cases involves multiple modes.

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If there is one thing the current banking crisis should have taught us is that banks should stick to what they do best. Sooner or later, the banks will unceremoniously exit these services without regard to the impact to the businesses they serve.

Children Shouldnt Play with Dead Things full movie Remember, being a good dentist does not qualify one to be a dental surgeon. Processing chemical companies’ freight is not the same as processing a telephone bill, utilitiy or a truckload of tomatoes from the local farmer. Chemical companies should turn to qualified transportation and logistics partners with intermodal capabilities to handle their freight payment and associated needs. In doing so, they’ll realize maximum savings on their transportation expenditures and may just avoid being part of the next banking crisis.

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