Three Reasons Your Business Should Consider—or Reconsider—Intermodal Rail

A lot has changed since the 1980s—music, technology, intermodal rail…yes, that’s right: intermodal rail. Today’s intermodal has grown up to become a cost effective, environmentally friendly and efficient mode of freight transportation that is truck-competitive and reliable for shippers.

Intermodal rail continues to gain momentum as a go-to transportation mode for a variety of products across highly complex supply chains, including consumer goods, appliances, manufacturing and packaging products, electronics, food and beverage items, furniture and more. Advances in technology and aggressive investments in intermodal infrastructure – coupled with challenging macroeconomic and trucking industry factors, such as decreasing over-the-road (OTR) capacity, rising fuel costs, increasing trucking regulation and cost constraints – have led to increased interest in intermodal rail from shippers of all sizes.

Proper modal selection for the movement of goods is a critical component of managing supply chain cost and performance. At CSX Transportation (CSXT), we have found on average that 14% of truck freight is sub-optimized*. How does your transportation network stack up? The answer to this seemingly simple proposition might surprise you and have a major impact on your organization’s bottom line. A sub-optimized supply chain can result in increased costs, decreased efficiencies, a lack of capacity and reduced flexibility, all of which negatively impact financial and operational performance.

Below are 3 reasons why your business should consider, or reconsider, integrating intermodal rail into your supply chain.

  1. Scalable Capacity—Intermodal solutions provide access to a large and growing fleet of both rail-owned and carrier-owned containers, easing shippers’ capacity concerns year-round, including peak seasons. Intermodal scales to meet shipping needs efficiently, with the ability to move the load of 280 trucks on one train.
  2. Sustainable Savings—Intermodal allows you to add more green to your bottom line and to the environment. Intermodal benefits, such as lower fuel consumption and freight density through double stacking of containers, produce cost savings for shippers and their customers. And the environmental favorability of intermodal rail provides a responsible growth engine for sustainable freight transport.
  3. Flexibility—Intermodal provides your organization the flexibility to meet ever-changing environmental conditions, by introducing multiple modes to get your freight to market and optimize at the lane level.

If you’re interested in incorporating intermodal rail into your supply chain, there are several new resources and tools that we encourage you to check out. At CSXT Intermodal, we have developed a tool, the H2R Optimizer, which provides shippers the ability to easily identify the most attractive freight for highway to intermodal rail (H2R) conversion. In addition, Load Delivered has developed a white paper on intermodal rail that highlights benefits of integrating this form of transportation into your supply chain.

To learn more about the benefits of shipping intermodally with CSX Transportation and Load Delivered, contact us.

This is the first installment in the Intermodal Insights series. Over the course of the series, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at intermodal rail and discuss how you can leverage the benefits of this mode of transportation to reduce costs and optimize your transportation network.  In the meantime, we value your thoughts on the industry and encourage open discussion either through leaving comments below or via email.

About the Author: Amy Rice is Director – Intermodal Marketing for CSX Transportation (CSXT). In this capacity, Amy is responsible for CSXT’s intermodal product management, marketing communication, data analytics, market forecasting and strategic planning. Amy has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Emory University and an MBA from the University of Michigan. Amy and family reside in Jacksonville, Florida.

* Based on >100 shipper truckload files analyzed in 2012 by the CSXT Intermodal H2R Optimizer.

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