Contrary to popular belief, intermodal shipping is not rail shipping. The process of getting freight quotes, moving freight, transit times, etc., is completely different from rail. Rail/tracks access is a must for shipping via rail. Obviously, not many shippers have this access. We use intermodal shipping to get around this.
Intermodal Shipping is a process for shipping that combines rail and truckload.
Most of the time, the freight will not leave its container from pickup to delivery. The container will be moved from truck to rail and back to truck again; never leaving the container. Here’s some other things to know about intermodal:
Packaging is Key
Because the container will be moved (rather than the pallets inside like in LTL), dunnage and blocking/bracing materials are very important. The idea behind intermodal packaging is to keep movement inside the container to a minimum. Items must be crated or palletized (no loose boxes), and must be secured.
Intermodal Shipping is cheaper for longer distances
The rub, however, is that the transit time is longer. And once an item is picked up and in transit, there’s no stopping the freight until it’s delivered. Consequently, intermodal shipping is for items that are not time-sensitive.
The weight limit for this type of shipping is 42,500 pounds
Anything over that will need to be broken up into multiple containers and shipments.
Getting a quote is similar to truckload shipping
To get the most accurate quote you’ll need: pickup and delivery locations (lanes), product description, weight, pallet or crate count, value, and the urgency level that the freight needs to be delivered. It’s very rare to receive a same-day pickup (at least 24 hours is needed to plan a pickup), so patience is a virtue in intermodal shipping. The good news is that intermodal capacity is known a week in advance, so you have plenty of time to plan.
There’s a long list of things that cannot be shipped intermodally…
So you’ll need to check with your freight broker to see if you product is one of them. Some popular items that cannot be shipped include: fruits, vegetables, fish, medicines, over-dimensional products, rockets, batteries, hazardous material, furs & pelts, tobacco products, and motor vehicles. So yeah, lots of stuff.
We’ve covered the basics of intermodal shipping in this blog, but there’s always more to learn. For more information, contact our truckload team. They can get you a freight quote, and see if intermodal shipping is an option for you and your shipments.