What is Intermodal Transportation?


Unlike transmodal transportation, where the movements of goods remain within a single mode of transport, intermodal transportation relies on items being moved from one transport system to another. In Australia, intermodal transportation is commonly referred to as containerised freight, whereby intermodal containers can be used on ocean-going vessels, rail networks and on road trucks.

Since the middle of twentieth century, global efforts have been made to integrate what were previously discrete transport networks into an intermodal one. Principally, this process began with the adoption of sea containers for international shipping. It is important to note that significant investment for this change was needed by both harbour authorities and ship builders. Although some freight bearing ships could be adapted to use standard containers, many had to be built from scratch in order to be able to carry them in sufficient quantities to make the approach profitable. Furthermore, ports needed to reinvest in their loading and unloading infrastructures in order to be able to meet the new challenges of containerisation. Only those harbours which were large enough to accept the transition to intermodal transportation have survived.

Following the initial stage of global intermodal transportation, regions and countries went on to adopt the next phases. These included improving their internal distribution networks. Intermodal transportation does not simply mean that goods can be shipped worldwide in containers, but get to their ultimate destination without the need to be unpacked. To achieve this, ports needed to have their communications upgraded. Principally, this meant improving the rail infrastructure to and from harbours in many parts of the world. However, in Europe, Australia and North America, it also led to significant sums being invested in road transportation, as well. All the major ports of the world are now geared up for intermodal transportation in terms of their cranes and other unloading equipment, and for their updated rail and road links.

Intermodal transportation can be used in a variety of ways. It is ideal for general goods, and chilled containers can be used to transport perishable foodstuffs long distances, which might have had to be sent by air in the past. With so many shipments being made by containers, the system is one of the fastest ways of transporting goods in a cost-effective manner. Because containers come in a number of sizes, it is possible to shift manufactured goods, raw materials and precious items with ease. Finally, it should be noted that each container has a unique identifying number, making it possible to track shipments no matter where they are in the intermodal network.


28 November 2016

Living in the most distant continent

One of the initial issues for when you do business in Australia is realising just how distant you are from the rest of the world. While the commercial world is getting closer through the internet, if you have any sort of physical product underlying your business, you also need to understand how shipping rates and delays affect your business. In many cases, shipping affects how you receive your input materials as well as how you can distribute your product. If you want to understand shipping better, then keep reading this blog. I help break down the specialist terms for shipping terms and processes.