Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you did not know what to choose? Whether it’s what you should eat for breakfast or which outfit to buy, or which shipping method to pick.
When transporting goods within Canada or all the way across to the US, you get to choose between different modes of shipping based on cost-effectiveness, practicality, time, etc. While it is always great to save money on shipping, you may be in a situation where you’d want your items shipped faster.
Both intermodal shipping and over-the-road trucking are widely used in North America. Some situations prefer the former and others prefer the latter. In this article, Stream Logistics will aid you in making an informed decision on which method serves your needs best.
Intermodal shipping involves moving goods in the steamship owned ocean containers or rail owned intermodal boxes through two modes of transport. It is a typical way of moving goods over long distances in modern times. It is rail service with trucking/drayage components on each end (in the origin/destination city). It provides the convenience of the shipment arriving directly to the customer while being a more affordable option. At Stream Logistics, we save you big on intermodal shipping by using rail transport as the long-mile component.
How does intermodal shipping work?
If you’re an individual who has opted for Stream Logistics intermodal shipping, the process begins with an empty truck arriving at your pick-up location. Your items will then be loaded onto the truck. From this point onwards, your shipment will be handled by Stream Logistics until it reaches its final destination.
Next, the truck will take the shipment to a designated railway yard, where the shipment will be transferred onto a train. Your shipment will then be transported by rail to a drop-off point that’s close to the destination.
The shipment is then, once more, transferred into a truck so that it can be transported to the consignee location. This process of moving the shipment from the railroad yard to the consignee location is called drayage.
Advantages of intermodal shipping.
- Lower cost: With lower handling costs and more predictable shipping prices, intermodal is generally the cheaper option for transporting goods a long distance.
- More eco-friendly: the damage caused to the environment is lower because it leaves a lower carbon footprint. According to breakthrough fuel, trains emit about 5.4 pounds of carbon dioxide per 100-ton mile, while trucks emit 19.8 pounds over the same weight and distance.
- Increased capacity: Because most industries use intermodal transfer, it is relatively easy to achieve economies of scale and ensure increased capacity.
Disadvantages of intermodal shipping.
- It is often slower: the rail is a slower service and often times congestion and delays apply to orders.
- Reliability: Because intermodal transport depends on more than one transit mode, there is a high chance of the chain breaking at some point. Different carriers may be in charge of each mode of transport. This requires more logistical coordination and increases risk. Unexpected delays due to weather changes and equipment failure are possible.
Over-the-road trucking is when a truck is used to deliver the shipment from the pick-up location to the consignee location directly. It involves no relay points in between.
Advantages of over-the-road trucking.
- Faster service: Over-the-road trucking is usually faster than intermodal shipping as it does not involve the more complicated processes of transferring the container to and from the train. It’s more useful when the shipment needs to arrive in short notice
- More reliable: as there is less transferring of containers to and from trains, it is less likely that the goods can be damaged.
Disadvantages of over-the-road trucking.
- More costly: as trucks usually consume more fuel per ton-mile, the cost is expected to be higher.
- Less eco-friendly: trucks leave a much larger carbon footprint than trains. That is why they are considered to be less eco-friendly.
Having your hands tied in shipping options is detrimental to your business or individual shipping needs. Sometimes, you may want your shipment to arrive fairly quicker than intermodal shipping, but without the high costs associated with over-the-road trucking. The answer is a mixture of both rail and road. For example, this could be a shorter over-the-road trip from Northeast USA to a hub city like Mississauga and then put on the rail for a long trip to Western Canada.
This is where Stream Logistics’ hybrid solutions, custom-tailored to your requirements, will serve you best. Hybrid solutions offer a blend of prices and services while addressing capacity issues.
With Stream, you have the liberty of choosing intermodal shipping, over-the-road trucking, or a hybrid solution to suit your requirement. Give us a call or leave us a message, we will ensure the safe pickup and delivery of your shipments in Canada and the US; the process is streamlined.