Intermodal transportation is emerging as a popular mode of transporting cargo owing to its economic and environmental benefits. While companies preferred over-the-road (OTR) transportation as it offered higher flexibility, a significant surge in freight rail infrastructure (especially across the USA and Europe) and a decline in availability of OTR drivers have led to several companies shifting to intermodal shipping. However, intermodal transportation has its own share of challenges, which, if not addressed effectively, can severely impact the entity’s operations.
As shippers are looking to cut costs as well their carbon footprint, they are steadily shifting towards intermodal transportation. This is further boosted by countries investing heavily to improve their intermodal infrastructure. However, growing popularity of intermodal transportation has resulted in shortages in chassis equipment and severe traffic jams at ports and terminals, among other challenges. Companies that manage to overcome these challenges by better planning and use of technology can definitely reap savings offered by this mode of transportation.
The question regarding intermodality is not of a yes or no, but more of a ‘how much’. While intermodal transportation offers several benefits over OTR, it is very critical for companies to assess the extent to which intermodality can work for them. Moreover, given the improvements in infrastructure and technology, companies that currently feel that intermodal does not work them, should not dismiss it once and for all, but should continue to re-evaluate the situation every six-monthly to annually.