What Are The Benefits of Intermodal Transportation?

Whether you are a shipper or a driver, Intermodal transportation offers certain advantages that are important to understand. Let’s explore the definition of intermodal transportation, the benefits of intermodal transportation, why intermodal transportation is used, and how to become an intermodal driver. 

What is intermodal transportation?

In intermodal transportation, freight is moved between the shipper to the consignee using two or more methods of transportation. In order for the freight to be seamlessly transferred between the different methods of transportation, it must be shipped in standardized intermodal containers. The freight is not handled when the container switches between different modes such as ships, trucks, and rail. 

There are two types of intermodal transportation. One type is domestic intermodal transportation. These types of shipments typically use 53 foot containers to transport goods. Domestic intermodal transportation almost exclusively utilizes rail and trucks. The other type is international intermodal transportation. These types of shipments typically use 20 or 40 foot containers and move the containers on ships, trucks, and rail. 

Why is intermodal transportation used?

Intermodal shipping is not necessary for every shipment, but it is the best way to move certain types of shipments. Let’s take a look at the instances in which it is beneficial to use intermodal transportation. 

Long-Distance Shipping

When shipping freight 700 miles or more, intermodal shipping is the most cost-effective way to move freight. 

High Freight Volume

When a shipper has a large volume of freight, intermodal transportation is the preferred method because it provides the necessary capacity at the most cost-efficient rate. 

Non-Urgent Shipments

In comparison to truckload transit times, intermodal transit times are slower. This is because it takes time to move the containers between modes of transportation. When shipments are not urgent, intermodal transportation may be an excellent choice. 

High-Value Freight

Because the shipping container that holds the goods is not opened during transportation, intermodal transportation offers a high level of safety and security for freight. Additionally, the methods of transportation involved in intermodal transportation receive a high amount of surveillance at all times.  For these reasons, intermodal transportation is ideal for high-value freight. 

Benefits of Intermodal Transportation

Intermodal transportation offers specific advantages that are important to note when considering ways to improve the efficiency of transportation processes. Let’s take a look at the benefits of intermodal transportation. 

Reduce Costs

Rail transportation is one of the most cost-efficient methods of moving freight. Intermodal transportation offers considerable cost savings due to the reliance on rail transportation. In fact, the longer the distance of the ship, the higher the cost savings. The cost savings are created by the lower fuel costs, lower handling charges, and increased volume of transporting freight overland by rail. 

Increase Capacity

Intermodal transportation provides access to a great amount of shipping capacity, particularly on high-volume freight lanes. Containers can be stacked two high on rail cars which doubles their capacity. When truck capacity is tight and driver shortages are posing challenges, the use of rail transportation provides a significant procurement opportunity. Trucks are still needed for the drayage portion of the journey. However, using drayage is still more efficient than over-the-road (OTR) trucking because drayage drivers can make multiple loads in a single day. In contrast, OTR drivers may travel a few thousand miles with a single load. 

Improve Safety

Choosing intermodal transportation reduces the risk of theft, loss, accidents, and damage. This is largely due to the security provided by rail transportation. Trains are a safer alternative to OTR trucking because they are constantly moving, the load is never left alone, police continually monitor the movement of the freight, and there are high levels of security at the terminals. Train accidents are rare so it is unlikely that the freight will be damaged. The other significant factor that contributes to the safety of intermodal transportation is the lack of handling of the freight. Freight is transported in containers, and the containers remain sealed throughout the entire shipping process. 

Optimize Sustainability

Intermodal transportation is a sustainable transportation method because it provides high fuel efficiency, high volume efficiency, and a reduced environmental impact in comparison to OTR trucking. According to the American Association of Railroads (AAR), a single gallon of fuel can move 1 ton of freight nearly 500 miles. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA), an intermodal train can haul approximately 280 truckloads of freight. The same report shows that on average, trains emit a third of the carbon emissions per mile in comparison to trucks. 

Become an Intermodal Transportation Driver Today

QFS Transportation is one of the best intermodal trucking companies offering intermodal trucking services throughout the United States. Our corporate headquarters is based in Indiana, but most of our truck drivers operate in other areas throughout the country. We are currently looking for self-motivated and experienced drivers to join our team. If you are interested in intermodal trucking and want to benefit from base plates with no money down, Bobtail and physical damage insurance, web-based dispatch software, fuel discounts, fuel cards, weekly settlements, exclusive territory, and remote access, become an intermodal truck driver with QFS Transportation. Contact QFS Global Intermodal Trucking today!