Intermodal Shipping 101: Go Green and Save with Intermodal Transportation Support

Find the right intermodal logistics partner for an enhanced intermodal shipping experience

Thanks to rising international trade, as well as volatile fuel costs and shifts in the labor market, demand for intermodal transportation continues to grow.

In fact, 2018 saw a record 14.5 million units moved via intermodal shipping—up nearly a million units from the previous year.

For companies interested in the economic and environmental perks of intermodal logistics solutions, AIT offers time-tested, reliable services.

Explore AIT's intermodal logistics options

AIT's efficient, cost-effective shipping solutions optimize supply chains for customers around the world, making use of intermodal transportation's many advantages, such as:
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Lower fuel expense
  • Decreased transportation costs
  • No third-party handling during transit
  • Deferred transit
  • Real-time visibility
  • Pickup and delivery flexibility
Intermodal shipping combines more than one mode of freight container transportation—without handling the cargo during mode changes. In U.S. domestic shipments, intermodal logistics almost always refers to ground with ocean or ground with rail transportation.
While intermodal and multimodal transportation are occasionally mistaken as the same concept, they refer to two distinct shipping processes. Multimodal shipping involves one company (like AIT) that's equipped to handle every aspect of moving goods through its customers' supply chains.

Through multimodal shipping, the freight forwarding expert manages each stage of the shipment, whereas in intermodal, the carrier could change with each leg of the journey. As such, multimodal shipping requires just one bill of lading, while intermodal may call for several.
If your shipment has a flexible timeline and the cargo isn't extremely valuable, intermodal might be a convenient and cost-effective option for your organization.

Recent service and infrastructure upgrades have improved transit times and the quality of rail shipping, in particular; however, intermodal shipping comes with a longer lead time and potentially rougher transport conditions, compared to air or ground shipping.

So, while intermodal transportation won't make sense for extremely fragile or urgent shipments, it's often ideal for inexpensive, bulk, palletized, heavy and/or oddly shaped cargo with longer lead times.

What's more, if your business is looking to green its reputation or increase pickup and delivery flexibility, intermodal shipping may fit the bill.
If you do decide that intermodal shipping is a good fit for your needs, be sure to choose a logistics partner with a wide service area and well-established relationships with a broad network of partners across modes. A robust, well-managed carrier network helps keep capacity predictably priced year-round, so you can benefit from more competitive rates.

In addition to a strong customer service record, look for a partner with modern technology infrastructure. In the digital age, any partner you choose for freight forwarding should be able to deliver 24/7, online access to all your shipping information.

Finally, if you're shipping across borders, it also pays to have a partner who can guide you through the often complex, and potentially risky, customs clearance process.

Level up your intermodal shipping process with intermodal transportation pros

Looking to take advantage of the fuel- and cost-reducing benefits of intermodal shipping? When you partner with AIT, you'll enjoy the 24/7 support of our experienced and reliable global team.

Whichever freight transportation method you select, you can be sure that your important shipments will arrive safely and on time.

Contact a Representative

Cut high fuel costs with train freight.

Learn More

Discover custom sea freight solutions.

Learn More