What is Intermodal Container Transport?

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William Thomas / January 2021

The term intermodal might sound complex, but that is not the case, as it means transporting cargo using different modes of transportation. If you ship your heavy equipment using the road through trailers and then by ship in the ocean, that is intermodal transport.

Most containers use intermodal shipping as you receive goods through the port and then use road transport to get them to your home or business. Experts in shipping companies can explicitly explain what is intermodal container transport. This masterpiece will explain more about intermodal container shipping.

“Intermodal transport of closed containers is a suitable replacement for the old break bulk cargo method. “

Transporting a container on a flatbed trailer.

What is intermodal container transport?

Intermodal transport of containers is a process that requires clients and shipping companies to work together to ensure seamless container moving and delivery. It entails careful planning of the multiple modes of freight transportation from within or outside the country to you.

Some shipping companies use intermodal container transport to imply the use of rail, ship, and road to ship containers from state to state. In such a case, the shipping process starts with truck transportation to the railway station for rail shipping and concludes with a truck or trailer. Intermodal transportation for international shipments might include air and truck shipping or sea and rail hauling.

Logistic experts can recommend road, rail, and road transportation for your cargo if shipping locally or road, air, sea, and road when transporting internationally. They use aspects such as total distance, truckload rates and proximity to rail or road, shipment requirements, and routing to determine the best intermodal transport.

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A Brief History of Intermodal Container Shipping

Intermodal transport of closed containers is a suitable replacement for the old break bulk cargo method. It was so tiring and time-consuming for shipping and logistics companies and involved hiring labor for loading and unloading tasks of small packages in trains, trailers, ships, or trucks.

The old process had too many issues, such as constant loss of goods and items while in transit because offloaders and loaders could access the contents and slow loading and unloading of cargo. Logistics companies have started to create containers to replace the old packaging methods.

Towards the end of the 19th century or early 20th century, closed containers emerged to help move goods in transit and on rail. England was the best example of countries that first used large containers to move cargo in ships and rail. The USA made steel containers to ship war supplies and ammunition during World War 11.

1931 was the year of the first container ship, followed by the first transport intermodal standards for containers in 1933. Most logistics companies saw the need to develop larger shipping containers in the 1950s for easy transportation of equipment, machinery, and goods of whichever size and weight. In the 1960s, intermodal shipping for smooth container moving facilitated sea freight shipments.

Afterward, rail and ship intermodal container transport became famous because of reduced transportation costs. In the 1970s, inventors preferred the double-stack cars, which became more popular by 1984 for container moving.

Intermodal transport is now more efficient because it facilitates freight shipping and encourages exporting of goods through different modes, including road, rail, sea, and air. The widely used containers in the shipping company range from 20-foot long to 52-foot long units and are 8 feet high.

Shipping a container on a trailer.

What Are The Benefits of Intermodal Container Shipping?

Learning and understanding the benefits of intermodal transport is vital after answering the question, what is intermodal container transport?

Moving containers that carry large, heavy, and bulky goods, equipment, and machinery comes with many benefits for logistics and shipping companies and clients, including:

  • Cost savings: Intermodal container transport eliminates the risk of losing packages and items while trains, ships, trucks, or planes are in transit. It helps move bulky or massive goods in one container, saving on the cost of several trips.

  • Eliminates the need for unloading and reloading goods or equipment from one ship to another or train to truck.

  • Facilitates the supply chain process as the logistics companies move containers from one mode of transport to another.
  • Saves on time: The stress of loading, unloading, and reloading the trucks, trains, and ships becomes significantly lower thanks to intermodal shipping, hence saving time.

  • Increases capacity for more goods: Makes bulk shipping and equipment transportation easy as the goods, equipment, and machinery are in containers.

  • Prevent congestion in shipping companies as double stacks carry more containers at once.

Call Heavy Equipment Transport for Safe and Efficient Intermodal Transport

When looking for a logistic company to handle your heavy equipment and cargo through different transportation modes, consider Heavy Equipment Transport. We are an all-inclusive shipping company specializing in freight shipment, hauling of super load, and LTL cargo transport.

Our logistics experts provide the best services and advice to ensure your cargo arrives safely at its destination. You can count on us for the best intermodal shipping, affordable rates, and highest-quality services. We go above and beyond to ensure client satisfaction as we meet their transport needs.

William Thomas

William Thomas

Heavy Transport Specialist

Being able to lead a team of such talented logistics agents has been a wonderful experience over the past ten years. If you would like to know anything more about the heavy equipment transport services we offer, don't hesitate to give us a call!