Intermodal Freight Transportation for Effective Supply Chain Management

Written by Terance Tan Zhiren, DLM

by Terance Tan Zhiren, DLM

In 1956, Malcolm McLean first put a truck bed on top of an old tanker ship in New Jersey, his invention led to the ‘multi-modal’ container that could be stacked and transported by boat, truck, or train. The rapid technological developments in recent years have witnessed a renewed focus on intermodal freight transportation driven by changing requirements of global supply chains. Each of the transportation modes has gone through technological evolution and has functioned separately under a modally based regulatory structure.

Intermodal Freight Transportation Demand

Over the past few years, capacity has been squeezed with driver shortages, increased demand, and increased fuel prices. Intermodal transportation has provided one such solution. While traditionally carriers strictly sell the advantages of their own modes, this approach to transportation is quickly becoming outdated in our global society.

Shippers will need to take a more integrated approach to keep pace with economic expansion and consumer demands. Today, logistics executives are taking the same approach to addressing the capacity squeeze by integrating the different modes of transportation: rail, truck, air, and sea. With the economy going through one of its slowest periods of expansion in history, shippers are exploring different ways of integration before everything ramps back up.

The most successful integration undertaking has been with intermodal rail. Shippers have realised that intermodal rail proactively addresses the need to meet both current and future business demands as the economy continues to expand.


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About the Author: Terance has several years of experience in logistics management, in particular in international freight and delivery operations. Terance is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM) and is completing the course on Diploma in Logistics Management (DLM) at SIPMM Academy.

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