Intermodal simply means more than one mode of transport. In domestic transportation, “intermodal” typically refers to the “Truck/Rail/Truck” combination.
An intermodal shipment is usually handled in the following stages:
- An empty trailer/container is picked up by a drayage carrier and taken to the shipping location for loading.
- The loaded trailer/container is then taken to a rail yard and loaded onto a rail car to be transported to a rail ramp location near the consignee.
- A drayage carrier then picks up the loaded container/trailer from the ramp and delivers the product to the consignee.
While that may seem like a lot of moving parts, there are certainly benefits to moving freight in this manner. Some of the most important ones include:
- The BCO (Beneficial Cargo Owner) could save a significant amount of money if the traffic lane is conducive to intermodal shipping
- Access to up to 200,000 additional pieces of equipment for loading
- Environmentally friendly shipping methods for BCOs who have corporate directives to reduce the size of their carbon footprint
Intermodal is not always the best method for all shippers because it requires the coordination of a lot of moving parts and excellent communication to keep the shipment moving on time. However, if properly utilized, intermodal is an excellent way to move freight.
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