As the economy starts to move again after several years of flat or stagnant growth, intermodal transportation companies are riding the momentum in increased product shipments from U.S manufacturers and service companies.
According to recent figures from the Intermodal Association of North America’s Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report, U.S. growth of container volume grew nearly 13% over 2011’s Q2. It was the second strong growth quarter in a row, just below 2012’s strong first quarter increase of 14% in container volume. International intermodal shipping volume for U.S. container imports also grew 4% in 2012’s second quarter, the best quarter in a year for international.
This is the type of encouraging business results for our nation’s economy, especially heading into an election year cycle. From port shipments and deliveries on both East and West Coasts, to intermodal trucking companies in the Midwest, business is looking up for the U.S. logistics industry.
The last four years in intermodal transportation have been depressing, as trucking companies faced driver shortages and high fuel costs. But 2011 showed a slight uptick in growth, which now has blossomed into the encouraging 2012 numbers seen at top. The reasons vary. Intermodal shipping offers cost savings from solid pricing, less handling costs, environmental benefits and better industry safety. Plus, the truckers have returned to the roads, and can again resume making a living from the increased shipments.
The U.S. logistics system is a complicated one, compiled of different industry segments and businesses working in intermodal transportation. Industry participants include intermodal trucking and rail firms, ocean carriers, port authorities, logistics companies, and suppliers firms offering leasing, warehousing and other services. Collectively, these companies help move the nation’s standard shipping containers and trailers. Individually, each outfit works to provide better operations, better use of existing infrastructure, and better service to their own corporate customers.
A key benefit of these companies working together in intermodal transportation is that they help reduce transportation costs on particular modes of transport, while also lessening congestion on sea, air and roadways. Moreover, each particular mode of transportation brings with it its own advantages.
Intermodal trucking companies establish arrangements with railroads to benefit both by helping to secure containers, decrease costs and improving overall service efficiencies. Studies have shown that using trains in rail transportation for shipping goods has shown to reduce highway accidents and lower its carbon footprint.
But in some instances, there are advantages for some companies in using trucking mode of transportation. Intermodal trucking firms can be more flexible and time sensitive to good shipments in particular regions of the country. They also can utilize a smaller, more efficient fleet for smaller shipments.
Overall, shippers can rely on U.S. intermodal transportation companies for reliability, safety and efficiency. When more companies move their freight to intermodal forms, the U.S. logistics industry will prove to be resilient in the face of ongoing competition.