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The Key to the Cost Effectiveness of Intermodal Shipping

Intermodal shipping is undeniably the most cost effective way to transport bulk cargo because of its integrated use of sea, rail and truck transport to deliver goods in the quickest, most direct way possible. The development of freight handling technologies that allow individual cargos to be tracked from their source to their delivery have contributed to the effectiveness and speed with which cargo can be transported across large distances, but it is the standardization of shipping containers that makes this efficient handling of freight possible. Since their worldwide acceptance in the 1970s, shipping containers have increased the efficiency of transporting goods by reducing handling times when unloading ships and reloading the same cargo onto trains or trucks. The containerization of bulk freight made it possible to develop port facilities that can handle vast numbers of containers in a single day, with the world’s largest port, Shanghai, estimated to have handled 31.7 million containers in 2011 alone1. Alongside the development of increasingly efficient infrastructure in modern ports, the growth in the size of container ships has seen the average transport vessel able to carry 8,000 containers at once, and may transport as many as 200,000 containers in a single year2. Obviously the key to all of this efficiently handled cargo… read more »

Rail and the Future of International Shipping

Since railroads offer the cheapest method for transporting goods over land and ships are the most economical form of transit by sea, it is only natural for the two systems to become increasingly intertwined within the ongoing expansion of global trade. A similar connection is to be found between rail transport and truck transport. Both developments key to advances in communications assisted by computers, cell phones, and other mobile devices. All work together to make for a smooth transition flow that allows goods to more readily reach their destinations. While ships may move at slow speeds over long distance, the fact that much of their cargo now moves by container means that goods can be moved around the world in the same relative amount of time that they were moved nationwide, in the case of the United States just a few decades ago. It isn’t so much that the ships have sped up, though they are moving about twenty percent faster than they used to, but because merchandise no longer sits around a warehouse so long waiting to be sorted out before moving out to market. Containers have markedly decreased the time goods spend being warehoused, both in transit by… read more »