Intermodal Beginner? These Smart Tips Can Help You Get Started

Getting started with intermodal services might initially sound complicated when you hear what it is: the use of multiple modes of transportation to make a delivery.

OTR trucking? Rail? Ocean shipping? With intermodal drayage, using a combination, such as trucking and rail, is actually more efficient than you may think. Recently, more and more shippers are using intermodal to save time, money, fuel and energy. As well, it brings some relief to know that if one mode of transport doesn’t work out then you have a backup mode ready to pick up the slack.

Logistics professionals or business owners who are just dipping their toes into intermodal waters for the first time might not know where to begin to get the most out of this service. To save time, money and headaches, use these professional tips to get started.

Lay the foundation for success

First, you’ll want to sit down and think about how intermodal will be the most beneficial for your business. Do your research into the region you frequently ship within and the most crucial ports, rails, warehouses and highways for your supply chain. What regulations do intermodal providers need to abide by in your lanes of traffic? What are the costs for transit times? Finding the answers to these questions and looking at different drayage/intermodal companies for advice is a good way to lay a solid foundation.

Be strategic when choosing facilities

Are you relying more on drayage or rail? Depending on the modes of transport you choose, you’ll need to ensure the facilities where storage and distribution occur are strategically located. For example, if the region you’re shipping in has a diverse rail network, you’ll probably want to use this mode to maximize efficiency. That means searching for a warehouse and other transit points close to major rail ramps.

Leave the planning in capable hands

Perhaps you don’t want to take any chances and feel more secure with a 3PL company orchestrating your first intermodal shipment. The benefits of partnering up with a 3PL is that they are experienced, know the methods that work and have an extensive network of reputable intermodal professionals across the area that can cushion your supply chain. It’s a good way to leave it to the professionals while you get to focus on running your business with less stress.