Intermodal logistics transports cargo in intermodal containers or vehicles using multiple transport modes like rail, ship, and truck. During this shipping process, nobody handles the freight when changing the methods. Consequently, intermodal transportation improves cargo handling, speed, efficiency, and security while reducing costs, damage, and loss.
It’s not surprising that its long-term growth projections point at a targeted CAGR of 8.27% between 2021 and 2026. Because of its strategic importance in goods movement, we examine some of the trends that will continue to affect it in 2022 and beyond. Remain onboard to learn how these patterns will continue to affect your business.
1. Advances in Green Technologies
The “green question” is here to stay because all transportation modes contribute to the carbon footprint. All trains, ships, airplanes, and trucks consume fuel. Where do their carbon emissions end? In the environment.
That’s why transportation companies are turning to the advancement and development of battery-electric trains. In Canada, they’re rushing to bring electric intermodal trains to the market for logistical services.
For example, CN Railway bought Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery-electric freight locomotive last November. This is the region’s first 100-percent battery heavy-haul engine that supports CN’s green objectives and initiatives. This ground-breaking tech is a vital stepping stone for lowering carbon emissions.
2. Rising Fuel Costs
Intermodal shipping depends on diesel to fuel trains and trucks. When oil prices suddenly skyrocket, shippers feel the pitch at the pump. Consequently, they have to cushion themselves against losses by sharing the increment with clients through increased freight costs.
Increased fuel cost forces shippers to flock to a cheaper alternative like rail transport. The challenge here is that the rail infrastructure is already overstretched.
This year started peacefully before Putin invaded Ukraine in February. The senseless war has negatively affected oil prices worldwide. So far, a barrel of crude oil in the international market costs $110. How soon this price increase will last remains unknown because analysts can only speculate that the war might last until December 2023.
3. Investment in Warehousing Operations
Warehousing plays a significant role in local and international intermodal transportation. Thus, industry players are increasing their investment here to meet growing customer demands and needs for last-mile delivery.
This increased investment will improve service quality, reduce costs, and enhance end-to-end freight management. Some players are also embracing B2B E-commerce and new intermodal technologies. These investments will assist shipping companies in loading cargo better, monitoring incoming goods, enabling clients to monitor their freights online. Additionally, truck drivers will benefit because they will get timely updates on their cargo’s status.
4. Port Congestion
We also expect to see more clogging at ports as this year progresses. Why? Because skyrocketing prices and interest rates might slow down consumer demands. Consequently, we shall see a swift drop in container shipping demand.
But does port congestion spell doom for your business? Definitely, it doesn’t! You can bank on our excellent shipping services to keep your business afloat.
You can also leverage port technologies to help you survive this trend. How? By joining a pool of chassis a chassis management company manages. Forward-thinking companies can rent the chassis to move cargo from ports.
This way, you can reduce much of your operating costs by reducing the need for storing and maintaining chassis.
5. Driver Shortage
Driver shortage is another trend that will continue to affect intermodal transportation. We have a declining labor force due to retirement and drivers who can’t drive anymore. According to Coyote.com, the intermodal industry is experiencing a 38% decline in truck driver posting activity.
It’s worth noting that there can be no goods movement without drivers. Therefore, a driver shortage directly affects all businesses. That doesn’t sound good for business, does it?
Fortunately, you don’t need to panic because the problem is solvable. Tech-savvy logistics companies respond to this by leveraging driving technology. For example, they leverage different technologies like transportation management solutions (TMS), mobile apps, and telematics.
These technologies can significantly remedy this shortage by improving operations efficiency and current driver productivity.
Moreover, tech-savvy transporters leverage paperless processes to enable drivers to focus on their driving jobs instead of paperwork. Please note that most truck drivers usually use documents that require signing upon cargo delivery.
This paperless technology scans the papers and puts them on smartphones or laptops. Drivers can upload documents directly to the home office while still in the field. Remote uploading accelerates invoicing and reduces drivers’ settlement time.
This way, customers can sign the documents electronically. Results? They save drivers the precious time they would have wasted going through papers to find and sign the right documents.
6. Improved Cargo Tracking
The intermodal industry will continue seeing improved cargo tracking on current freight transportation systems. The reason is that traditional tracking systems are falling into oblivion because electronic scanning tech speeds up shipping processes. Faster processes produce increased efficiency.
For example, the demand for more efficient cargo shipment has motivated the rail industry to improve its operations. This crucial sector has adopted technologies like precision scheduled railroading (PSR) to boost its operations.
Intermodal freight firms are also boosting their cargo tracking capabilities to boost their growth and customer satisfaction. Many are embracing real-time cargo monitoring, hands-on video tracking, and GPS reporting.
Industry players are also adopting more intermodal software to manage loads and update drivers. They will continue harnessing these apps to update their customers on their cargo status using online shipment monitoring.
7. Increased Truck Utilization
The intermodal industry will keep experiencing increased truck usage. However, active truck use is a complex blend of driver productivity, demand, and supply. The challenge here is that driver productivity has reduced because many truck drivers pursue bonuses and hop between fleets.
The time they lose between the transitions affects their ability to concentrate and become more productive. Consequently, more shipping companies have difficulties finding the correct human resources to meet their customers’ rising demands.
The good news is that post-holiday consumer demands will remain high this year because some goods will remain scarce. Consequently, increased sales will push more holiday shopping and the demand for truck usage.
Tech-savvy companies will leverage technologies like smart driver schedules and location tracking. This way, they will track all their assets in one place as drivers move between different locations. Using route planning software will also help current drivers remain focused and more productive to meet this rising demand.
Let’s Get Your Business Moving Today
Change is the only unchanging constant in the intermodal transportation industry. Therefore, it’s critical for all players to know and prepare for all the changing trends affecting this critical sector. Many trends affect different intermodal operations, requiring all players to respond accordingly.
We shared the top seven trends disrupting the industry this year and beyond. Some are positive, while others are negative. But overall, you have nothing to worry about because you can lean on our shoulders to keep your business moving.
Go ahead and talk to us about your intermodal logistical needs today. We’re here to move with you and keep you afloat in 2022 and beyond.