intermodal shipping through third-party logistics Cleveland

Leveraging 3PL Intermodal Shipping to Offset Cleveland Trucking Costs

Over the last few years, opportunities for intermodal shipping ceded way to higher demand for truckload deliveries – which has resulted in some of the highest costs for Cleveland trucking in years.

But as our third-party logistics experts have noted, the tide appears to be shifting for intermodal shipping. Our customers may find a growing number of opportunities to cut costs by opting for a combination of rail, sea, air, and truck transport – something our Northeast Ohio 3PL supply chain experts can help arrange.

As recently reported by, rail transport tapered off considerably during the pandemic. Many have concluded that time period to be a missed opportunity for the railroads and rail shipping in general. However, demand for freight has risen over the last six months – with truckload demand leveling out and intermodal loaded container volumes the highest they’ve been since 2021. That growth can largely be attributed to shippers converting their truckload freight to rail. This makes sense because rail service has improved, as have the rates.

Strategic use of intermodal shipping can ultimately save your company a significant sum in transport and delivery costs.

What Exactly is Intermodal Shipping?

Intermodal transport, also known as intermodal transportation or intermodal shipping, is a logistics strategy that involves the use of multiple modes of transportation to move goods or cargo from the point of origin to the final destination.

This approach typically combines at least two of the following modes: road (truck), rail, water (usually ocean shipping), and air. The key idea is to seamlessly transfer cargo containers or units between different modes of transportation, making the overall logistics process more efficient and cost-effective.

How Intermodal Transport Saves Money

Intermodal transportation offers cost savings, environmental benefits, and increased flexibility.

Examples of strategies shipping companies can employ to optimize pricing through intermodal transportation:

  1. Route Optimization. Shipping companies should analyze their shipping routes and identify opportunities to use intermodal transportation. By choosing the right combination of modes for different legs of the journey, they can reduce costs and improve efficiency.
  2. Volume Commitments. Negotiating volume commitments with intermodal providers can lead to lower pricing. Shipping companies that commit to a certain amount of freight can often secure better rates and service agreements.
  3. Transit Time Considerations. Depending on the nature of the goods and the customer’s requirements, it’s essential to balance cost savings with transit time. Slower intermodal routes may be more cost-effective, but faster routes may be necessary for time-sensitive shipments.
  4. Long-Term Contracts. Entering into long-term contracts with intermodal providers can help lock in favorable rates and terms, providing stability and predictability in pricing.
  5. Efficient Equipment Utilization. Maximizing the utilization of containers and trailers is critical to cost savings. Using specialized intermodal equipment and optimizing the loading and unloading processes can reduce empty miles and increase efficiency.
  6. Negotiation and Collaboration. When you work with a 3PL partner with strong, established working relationships with intermodal providers, you get the benefit of our negotiations to secure better pricing on your shipments. Collaborating on innovative solutions can also lead to cost savings and improved service.
railroad with containers used in intermodal shipping by a Cleveland trucking and 3PL provider

Our Cleveland 3PL Helps Our Customers Make the Most of Intermodal Shipping

Working with a Cleveland 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) provider like On Time Delivery & Warehouse can be a valuable strategy to optimize intermodal pricing.

  1. Expertise and Resources. 3PLs have the expertise and resources to help shipping companies navigate the complexities of intermodal transportation. They can leverage their industry knowledge and relationships with intermodal providers to negotiate better rates and terms.
  2. Network Access. 3PLs often have a broad network of transportation providers and can identify the most suitable intermodal solutions for a specific shipment, optimizing routes and modes.
  3. Technology and Visibility. 3PLs can provide technology solutions that offer real-time visibility into shipments, helping shipping companies track their cargo and make informed decisions about routing and timing.
  4. Flexibility. 3PLs can adapt to changing market conditions and shipping needs, making it easier for shipping companies to take advantage of cost-effective intermodal options.
  5. Risk Management. 3PLs can help shipping companies manage the risks sometimes associated with intermodal transportation, such as delays, disruptions, or damaged goods.

Bottom line: With the right combination of intermodal strategies and partnerships, our dedicated logistics experts help clients reduce costs and improve overall supply chain efficiency.

For information on our Cleveland third-party logistics, warehousing, CFS freight, intermodal transportation and trucking services, contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Intermodal’s gain is trucking’s loss, Oct. 28, 2023, By Zach Strickland, Freight Waves

More Blog Entries:

NE Ohio 3PL Partner Helps Businesses Build Supply Chain Sustainability, Sept. 15, 2023, Cleveland Trucking & Logistics Blog

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