For decades, road and rail freight have battled one another to be the leading land transportation device.
However, as pointed out by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, the increasing trend of the two services working together is the future for Australia’s freight industry.
The integration of rail and road to provide collaborative services is commonly known as intermodal freight, which provides local pick-up and delivery (PUD) to and from the rail terminals.
What industries use intermodal freight?
Rather than attempting to stick to just one service, industries are recognising the importance of using both road and rail services.
A great example is the transportation of some metallic minerals, such as copper or uranium, where the intermodal transport is optimal. Mineral sands are transported from the Murray Basin to Broken Hill, and refined mineral concrete is moved to Port Adelaide.
Additionally, the movement of grain from the farm to the store is mostly facilitated by road and rail. To get the grain from the farm to storage the road is used, then from the regions to the inner-city supermarkets, trains are the choice.
In many cases, the intermodal option is the most cost-effective, rather than attempting to make one transport option work.
What makes people choose intermodal, or only road or rail?
Of course, it is hard to narrow down the reason certain industries move towards intermodal transport, and others stick with what they know. Depending on what is being moved, one mode of transport will be far more suitable than the others.
However, the transit and delivery time have a strong influence on the decision. The Department writes that road is preferable when the ‘express’ time offering is chosen. That means the road is commonly used when a product needs to arrive within the next business day, or as fast as possible. On the other hand, rail is the mode of choice when an economy time slot is chosen, so within two to five business days.
Cost is a major persuasion for people, with road transport generally remaining the same, regardless of distance. In comparison, rail is more expensive the shorter the distance but dramatically decreases as the distance increases.
Why consider intermodal transport?
It is widely recognised that intermodal transport is the answer that responds to increasingly complex global trade and distribution systems.
While it is more difficult to coordinate, with the system requiring an intrinsic understanding of transportation and supply chain processes, it provides a more holistic solution than traditional options.
Solely using road transport puts one at risk of suffering major traffic delays, unpredictable costs of fuel, and critical infrastructure gaps. Issues aren’t limited to the roads, with each industry facing their own subset of problems.
However, a primary purpose of intermodal transport is to use the alternative modes to navigate around the obstacles as they arise.
It is also recognised that the demands of customers are rapidly changing and more diverse than ever before. The rise of e-commerce also has an extensive impact on the supply chain processes and enforces the urgent need for intermodal options.
With customers deserving transportation options that can deliver quickly, be reliable, flexible, and also cost-effective, intermodal transport is the response from the logistics industry.
When to trust intermodal service providers?
It is no secret intermodal transport is notoriously more difficult to organise than the traditional road or rail.
Individuals or companies responsible for transport must have a high level of knowledge and experience in the industry, and also understand what the customer is looking for. Every customer and their needs are different, so the services offered should reflect that.
Skill and knowledge are not the only essential, but companies or individuals must be equipped technologies that are necessary to executing the tasks.
At S.A.L. Global Logistics, we are a privately owned Australian company that offers the expertise, skill and equipment to provide the leading transportation options.
We are proud to be innovating our services to provide intermodal transport services, which ensures our clients remain competitive in the global marketplace.
Please contact us anytime to clarify any points on intermodal transportation, or whether it is something suitable for your business.
S.A.L. Global Logistics also offers comprehensive solutions to your importing and exporting needs, and services in air and ocean freight and shipping. Feel free to get in touch, today!