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Understanding Intermodal Transportion | Matrix Transportation

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

In today's fast-paced and globalized economy, efficient and effective transportation is essential for any business in need of moving large quantities of freight over long distances. With different modes of transportation available, it's often difficult for businesses to choose the best solutions that will help them save time and money.


Enter intermodal transportation, a unique and innovative way to move freight that combines different modes of transportation into one seamless journey. In this blog post, we will explore what intermodal transportation is and its benefits to businesses that require long-distance shipping of their goods.


What is Intermodal Transportation and how does it work?


Intermodal transportation, in a nutshell, is the use of multiple modes of transportation, such as shipping containers, rail, trucks and cargo planes, to move goods from Point A to Point B.


Let's look at an example of how intermodal transportation works.

Suppose you run a manufacturing business that sends products to retailers across the country. Using intermodal transportation, the goods are packed into a shipping container, loaded onto a truck and transported to a logistical hub. The container is then transferred onto a train (typically through a process called cross-docking) and transported to a drop-off point close to the destination city. Once there, the container is loaded onto a truck and delivered by either final mile or dedicated truckload methods to its destination, whether it's a warehouse or retail store.


What are the key benefits of Intermodal Transportation?


1. Efficiency

Intermodal transportation is an effective way of reducing freight costs for your business since it uses an interconnected transportation system that combines the benefits of multiple modes of transportation. By combining these modes, intermodal transportation saves time and money, providing a more efficient supply chain model. With lower transportation costs, businesses can consider spending more on product innovations, package designs and marketing plans to enhance the customer experience.


2. Improved Security

When dealing with intermodal transportation, businesses can relax in the knowledge that security is taken seriously throughout the entire transportation process. Shipping containers – the solid, stackable metal boxes that are used to transport goods – are tamper-proof and have GPS tracking capabilities, which means that the location and integrity of the transported goods are always closely monitored. Unlike traditional trucking, there is no risk of theft, loss, or damage when using intermodal transportation.


3. Lower Carbon Footprint

Intermodal transportation often uses rail and sea shipping to transport goods longer distances, reducing the amount of CO2 emissions produced by the transportation process. This makes intermodal transportation a viable option for businesses that are concerned about their environmental impact. By opting for an eco-friendly transportation option, businesses can show their customers their passion for environmental sustainability, which can enhance a business' brand image, appeal and overall reputation.


4. Economical Over Long Distances

Intermodal transportation is an excellent choice for Over The Road (i.e. long distance, transport across borders/state lines) product transport. For example, if a business needs to transport goods from the US to Europe, the most effective way of doing so is via sea shipping. However, the goods will still need to be transported to and from the ports on both sides of the journey. Intermodal transportation can easily bridge this gap by transporting the goods by rail, trucking, or air. This creates a seamless transportation process, and businesses can experience faster or lower costs on this particular trade lane.


5.Moving Perishable Goods:

With refrigerated or temperature-controlled containers, businesses can use intermodal transportation to move their perishable goods in a cost-effective and reliable manner. The containers can maintain a steady temperature, preserving the quality of the goods. With the technology, transportation allows optimized temperature management, which lessens the chance for spoilage or wastage while the goods are transported long distances.


Potential Disadvantage of Transmodal Transportation

With so many (literal) moving parts to Transmodal Transportation, the logistics of scheduling, monitoring, and communicating can become quite complex if you contract multiple service providers to handle each individual step. This is one of the main reasons why customers choose Matrix Transportation because we provide an integrated approach that takes care of every step of the process across a wide geographic footprint. So instead of having to manage multiple vendors, clients save a lot of time and organizational headaches by benefitting from one point of contact and a robust support system.


In conclusion, intermodal transportation is a highly effective and efficient way for businesses to move their goods over long distances. With its ability to optimize shipping routes, reduce transportation costs, enhance security and safety, and reduce shipping times, businesses can save time, money, and resources while getting their products to market faster.


If you're a business in need of long-distance freight shipments, consider the benefits of intermodal transportation and explore how it can help you optimize your supply chain and improve your bottom line.


Keep in mind that this article explores intermodal transportation from a high-level industry view. If you’d like to see how it can help with your specific business needs, feel free to connect with our team so we can analyze your unique situation, answer any questions and ensure you take advantage of every opportunity in your supply chain process.


Call us today at 888-896-2405.



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