My wife and I traveled the Southwest United States for ten days in May. It was wonderful. We can’t wait to do it again. We flew into Phoenix, rented a car, and followed our noses. Our noses took us to the Grand Canyon, and from there to Utah, and then New Mexico. We traversed from cactus filled desert to alpine terrain with snow topped mountains. As we traveled, we saw miles of double-stacked trains carrying containers from international shippers like YangMing, Maersk, and more. These super trains were coming from the Pacific coast heading east with thousands of tons of merchandise and supplies. It was intermodal shipping in action.
So, What is Intermodal Shipping?
Simply put it’s shipping the same container on two or more forms of transportation. For example, in the case of the YangMing shipping containers, we can assume they arrived to the port in California via container ship. From there they could have been loaded onto a tractor-trailer and delivered to the rail. From the railroad, they might go onto trucks, barges, or airplanes for delivery.
These ships are custom built to carry containers and can carry thousands of containers at one time.
Special container cars or well cars that look like flatbeds but have a depression that fits the container are double stacked to carry two containers on every car.
The containers can be loaded onto flatbed tractor trailers and delivered to the end user or conveyed to connecting intermodal units.
Barges are used to transport containers on larger waterways such as the Mississippi River.
Airplanes cargo bays use special containers designed specifically for airfreight.
The Benefits of Intermodal Shipping
Have you ever helped unload a truck? I have, more than once. It’s time-consuming and hard work. Items become damaged, get lost and disappear into someone’s personal vehicle. It’s not the most efficient way to move a shipment from one form of transport to another, and yet it was the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for years and continues to some degree today. The advantages of intermodal shipping include:
- Cuts work hours
- Adds security and lowers theft
- Reduces exposure to damage
- Improves delivery time
- Lowers costs
- Lessons carbon emissions
What Intermodal Shipping means to you
What intermodal shipping means to you is reduced delivery time of perishable goods, medicines, and the newest sneakers at your favorite store. It means lowered cost because of streamlining the system by cutting unneeded steps and by reducing shrinkage. If you don’t think it means that much to you personally consider this. Nearly everything you consume—food, clothing, and medication comes to you via intermodal shipping.