Intermodal shipping and intermodal trucking are excellent options for those looking to find the optimal supply chain solution for their needs. Intermodal shipping and trucking services allow customers to maximize value when moving freight. Before discussing intermodal trucking, you will first need to understand what intermodal shipping is.
Intermodal shipping happens when you are moving freight using two or more forms of transportation services (truck, rail, plane, ship. etc.). Whenever you are moving freight using multiple forms of transportation, e.g. you are moving freight between a plane and truck, between a ship and a truck, or between a train and a truck, you are using intermodal shipping. You might be wondering, how is intermodal shipping related to intermodal trucking?
Intermodal trucking is a form of freight transport that allows you to move goods in special containers on truck beds, so these goods can be placed on rail cars or ships without needing to be repacked. Intermodal services involve moving freight in a container using at least two or more forms of transportation (plane, truck, rail, or ship), without anyone handling the freight itself when changing transportation modes. In other words, if you are transferring freight from a truck to a train, no one would be handling the freight itself. Instead, the freight itself can be loaded directly from a truck on a rail car or ship without needing to be repacked.
Intermodal trucking is an excellent solution for your supply chain since it’s a flexible process for moving freight. Locations for different modes of intermodal transportation (trucks, rail, ships) can be found all over North America. It is easy to accommodate freight that is being shipped using intermodal methods, since this freight is designed to be moved between trucks, ships, rail, etc. Intermodal trucking, in particular, makes it easy for you to reach your shipping destination, since your freight can be loaded directly from a port onto a truck and trucked to your final shipping destination.
Most importantly, when you are using an intermodal shipping process, you can build shipping deadlines into the intermodal shipping process, which will allow you to meet shipping deadlines. When companies combine intermodal rail and intermodal trucking, this can strengthen a supply chain’s transportation network by combining the economic and environmental benefits of using rail to transport freight with the flexibility of trucking.
Deciding On Whether Or Not Intermodal Shipping and Intermodal Trucking Are Right for You
You should consider the following guidelines when deciding whether or not intermodal shipping works best for you and your goods:
- Do you have load units that are less than 25 tons?
- Do you have finished goods (food, industrial and farming products, and other goods) that have a shipping deadline that you need to meet?
- The farther your goods are travelling, the more you should consider intermodal shipping. This is especially true if your goods are travelling at least 300 miles away or if shipping your freight will take at least one day to arrive by truck.
- If your overall freight distance is 750 miles or further from pick up to delivery, you should be considering intermodal shipping.
- Higher-value items are typically sent using white glove service methods. Goods with a mid-range value such as household items, furniture, recycled materials, and consumables are great candidates for intermodal shipping.
- When you have tons and tons of cargo, you need to be moving continuously, intermodal rail, vessels, and trucking will keep it moving throughout a calculated logistics process.
Related article: How to Choose the Right Shipping Carrier?
Choosing an Intermodal Trucking Company
Can they deliver your goods where you need them to go?
This is an important question to ask yourself, since wherever your goods are being picked up from and wherever they are being delivered to, it can help you determine whether or not a given trucking company is the right fit for your needs.
You want to go with a trusted intermodal trucking company so you can rest easy with having them shipping your cargo, but you also will want to ensure that you can afford to use a reliable trucking company.
Experience and Expertise
Does this company have sufficient experience with intermodal trucking and shipping to ensure that you can rely on them to ensure that the shipping process runs smoothly and that your cargo will be handled correctly?
Quality of Service offered
Is the company in question recognized for excelling at logistics and trucking? Is their fleet in good condition? Do they provide solid customer service and operational support?
Are they using advanced tracking technologies to help you monitor the progress of your freight in real time?
All trucking and logistics companies in Canada need to fulfill certain legal requirements that allow them to legally operate. Any company you are working with should be up-to-date with their licensing and insurance credentials.
Who is their target market?
Does a given intermodal trucking company primarily work with large, high volume shippers or do they offer services for small to medium-sized shippers? All of these target markets are important. However, if you are a small shipper, it may not make sense for you to work with a trucking company focused on working with large, high volume shippers, because this might mean that they might be looking to serve certain markets to maximize their turns for boxes, ignoring other modal lanes.
The following companies are some of Canada’s largest and best intermodal transport and logistics companies.
Top Intermodal Trucking Companies in Canada
Canadian National Transportation, established in 1919, is an internationally recognized transportation and logistics company. It is one of Canada’s best-performing transportation and logistics companies. Canadian National Transportation’s network stretches across Canada, from Canada’s Atlantic coast in the east to Canada’s Pacific coast in the west, through the Midwest United States until New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. They ship freight using their rail network which includes over 22,000 miles of track, the ports they service on Canada’s Atlantic coast, Canada’s Pacific coast and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as their 23 strategically located intermodal terminals across their network. Their extensive network allows you to connect with the people who are most important to your customers.
Intermodal Services Offered:
- Temperature Controlled Cargo
- Port Partnerships
- Transloading and Distribution
- Logistics Perks
- Customs Brokerage
- Freight Forwarding
- Moving Grain in Containers
TFI International is a Canadian transport and logistics company, and it is one of Canada’s largest trucking companies. They are a leader in transportation and logistics in North America, operating through subsidiaries in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Their subsidiary companies serve the following segments:
- Package and Courier
- Less Than Truckload (LTL)
- Truckload (Including Intermodal Trucking)
- Logistics and Last Mile.
The Mullen Group is one of Canada’s largest trucking companies. Their Trucking/Logistics segment has 14 subsidiary companies operating in Canada and the Continental United States, some of whom offer intermodal trucking services, as well as other trucking, logistics, and freight services.
Bison Transport is one of Canada’s leading trucking companies. They have won multiple awards from Drivers, for Safety, for their commitment to the environment and corporate practices. They are known for using the latest technology and operating one of the largest and most modern fleets in the industry, serving customers in Canada and the 48 Continental United States.
- Over-The-Road Trucking
- Intermodal Trucking in partnership with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.
TransX Group of Companies is Canada’s largest private transportation company and a leading North American transportation service provider. TransX offers a variety of trucking, specialized trucking and logistical services, working with companies of all sizes and they specialize in providing custom solutions tailored to their customer’s unique needs. They are the trusted transportation partner for many of North America’s largest shippers.
- Less Than Truckload
- Specialized Services
- Flat Deck
- Customs Brokerage
Groupe Robert is one of Canada’s largest trucking companies and a leader in the North American logistics industry, offering services in a variety of areas to support you in every aspect of your logistics operations from planning to fulfillment and everything in between. They also specialize in supporting supply chains for clients in the Agri-Food industry, Aerospace industry, Automotive industry, and the Metal industry.
- Logistics Solutions
- Full Truckload (FTL) Transportation Canada/United States
- Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Transportation Canada/United States
- Distribution Centers Canada/United States
- Specialized Transportation Canada/United States
- Intermodal Transportation
Intermodal trucking is an excellent shipping method since it offers many advantages. First, you will have the ability to securely and efficiently track and monitor your products as they are being shipped while enjoying the flexibility of a variety of intermodal trucking options and offering door-to-door delivery. You will experience peace of mind knowing your goods are being trucked securely to their final destination and enjoy having a variety of flexible transit schedule options that allow you to meet delivery deadlines.
Related article: 4 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Truck Company