The complexity of the intermodal world can be quite confusing, especially if you are new to the industry. Should you happen to be a beginner, there are various terms and concepts to understand if you want to succeed. Here are some of the best quick tricks and tips to guide you in the right direction.
Quick tips to understand intermodal terms and concepts
- Intermodal weight: Weight is usually the primary consideration for new intermodal shoppers. You are limited to a capacity of 42,500 pounds. You must also know that weight distribution across the container is vital. Therefore, ensure the load is properly braced and blocked to prevent unexpected situations during transportation.
- Blocking and bracing are both important during transportation. They prevent damage, while ensuring the load remains within the legal weight distribution. Blocking and bracing are not as time-intensive as most people assume.
- Transit times: Always add a day over the quoted truck transit. However, you may observe variations when the lane to be used does not operate every day or when the lane needs an interline between the railroads.
- Service should be consistent and reliable. Issues experienced usually originate at the origin of the load or at the destination. Therefore, if you manage to streamline operations at those points, then you will manage to improve overall reliability and consistency.
- Intermodal is not just a price proposition. You need to understand that intermodal can experience issues just like any other transport means such as air or ocean. However, if you manage to address the minor differences between truckload and intermodal, your efficiency will be set.
- Intermodal transportation providers have different capabilities. The classifications of “non-asset” and “asset” imply different things in this industry. Thus, caution must be exercised when dealing with small brokerage firms, who may not understand the service as well or lack direct contact with the railroads.
- The intermodal network is constantly changing. For example, a lane that was operational today may not be operational over the next six months. You should, therefore, expect routine changes in the system and adjust accordingly.
- Domestic intermodal is not always in peak season. You may have joined the industry expecting to move lots of cargo during the domestic intermodal phase. However, things have changed: now you need to work with the IMC to identify a reliable working schedule.
- Incorporate intermodal into your transportation strategy as soon as possible. Fuel, price and capacity are all quite unpredictable. Therefore, take the time to think about your intermodal strategy and implement accordingly.
- Intermodal is asset-like. Thanks to the wide range of asset truckload services offered by different carriers, shipments can be tracked and traced with greater accuracy across the intermodal network.