Trends in Intermodal Freight Transport

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  • 7/28/2019 Trends in Intermodal Freight Transport



    Today intermodal is often associated with a variety of transportation activities and is oftenused to refer many of the important overall advances in freight transportation and logistics of

    recent years.

    Freight transportation is a joint enterprise of the private sector and government. Private firmsprovide nearly all the direct service to shippers and own transportation equipments and someportions of the infrastructure. The government provides major infrastructure components like

    ports and harbors, airports and airways, and inland waterways.

    The transportation industry is rapidly changing due to technological advances and search forfaster and cheaper ways to transport freight across the globe.

    Intermodal freight transport is a system for transporting goods, particularly over longer distances

    and across international borders, which uses a combination of two or more individual modes,

    such as road haulage and rail freight, or road haulage and inland waterway barge, to achieve themost economic, efficient and environmentally-friendly delivery of loads to their destination.

    Rail-Rail- Intermodal rail technology has changed rapidly especially in the areas of automation and

    flat car equipment. Most advances have been incremental changes to existing technologies.

    Articulated cars represent the type of technology. Articulated cars are light in weight, have lower

    purchase prices, are less expensive to maintain, and prevent cargo damage by eliminating mostslack action and roll dynamics between cars.

  • 7/28/2019 Trends in Intermodal Freight Transport


    The government and rail industry are developing Intelligent railroad System that will incorporate

    evolving information into train operations and maintenance. Some of them are client servicesystem and a train control and dispatching system. Other developments are Nationwide

    Differential Global Positioning System (NDGPS), Positive Train Control (PTC), electronically

    controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes, automatic equipment identification tags for all equipments,

    way side equipment sensors to identify defects on passing trains, and intelligent grade crossingsto reduce grade crossing collisions.

    Motor CarriersMost of the advances in this mode are in fuel efficient factors and lighter and stronger trailers

    with increased cargo capacity. Also the commercial vehicle operations(CVO) initiative, which is

    a part of the intelligent Transportation system is expected to improve administrative efficiency,

    highway data collection, safety and reduce operating costs to commercial vehicles.


    Aviation continues to expand its role in intermodal freight transportation in shipment of highvalue and time sensitive cargo. Large aircrafts like Boeing 747-400 freighter and

    MD-11 and now Russias Antonov-124, can accommodate 20 and 40 foot international

    organization for standardization (ISO) ocean containers. However until lighter and stronger seaair containers are developed and used, the additional handling cost of transferring cargos

  • 7/28/2019 Trends in Intermodal Freight Transport


    between the heavier ISO ocean containers and the ISO air containers will continue to be more

    costly than all ocean service. To accommodate this growth and enhance safety the Federal

    Aviation Administration (FAA) is engaged in a comprehensive program to modernize Air Traffic(ATS) Control System. This includes replacing radar surveillance systems, modernizing voice

    communication systems introducing enhanced automated navigation aids, data links, and

    improved weather systems.Water waysTodays containers vessels have 50 % more cargo capacity than those of 1975 and some are

    triple the size. An 8000 twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU) ship was developed in 1997 and

    13000 TEU ship design is currently being studied. When these ships were produced in 1970s,they required many waterways and ports to be deepened to accommodate the increasing drafts of

    these vessels


    Containers, also known as intermodal containers or as ISO containers because the dimensionshave been defined by the ISO, are the main type of equipment used in intermodal transport,

    particularly when one of the modes of transportation is by ship.

    Containers are eight feet (2438 mm) wide by eight feet (2438 mm) high. Since introduction,there have been moves to adopt other heights, such as eight feet six inches (2591 mm), nine feet

    six inches (2896 mm) and ten feet six inches (3200 mm). The most common lengths are 20 feet

    (6096 mm) nominal or 19 feet - 10 in (6058 mm) actual, 40 feet (12192 mm), 48 feet (14630

    mm) and 53 feet (16154 mm), although other lengths exist. They are made out of steel and canbe stacked on top of each other (a popular term for a two-high stack is "double stack"). On ships

    they are typically stacked up to seven units high. They can be carried by truck, rail, container

    ship, or aero plane. When carried by rail, containers can be loaded on flatcars or in container wellcars. In Europe, stricter railway height restrictions (smaller loading gauge and structure gauge)

    prohibit containers from being stacked two high, and containers are hauled one high either on

    standard flatcars or other railroad cars.

    Open-topped versions covered by a fabric curtain are used to transport larger loads. A containercalled a tanktainer, consisting of a tank fitted inside a standard container frame, allows liquids to

    be carried. Refrigerated containers are used for perishables. There is also the swap body, which

    is typically used for road and rail transport, as they are built too lightly to be stacked. They havefolding legs under their frame so that they can be moved between trucks without using a crane.

    INTERRELATIONSHIPS OF INTERMEDIARIESWhile the intermodal industry has experienced strong growth over much of the last two decades,

    the industry has had a number of service problems that may prevent predicted growth from

    occurring. Many of these service problems relate to the structure of the intermodal industry and

    conflict between the intermediaries. This conflict has prevented the close coordination andcommunications needed to optimize efficiency within the industry.

    The industry is structured around each individual mode of transportation and because of

    intermodal transfers often require the coordination of government entities and multiple privateentities, physical and organizational bottlenecks sometimes develop the affect the performance of

    the entire freight system.

  • 7/28/2019 Trends in Intermodal Freight Transport


    Conflict between the intermediaries, who in the past have functioned predominantly within their

    own respective mode, has impeded the formation of mechanisms to coordinate access to

    intermodal equipment, facilities, and the flow of information between modes during intermodaloperations

    TECHNOLOGIES IN INTERMODAL FREIGHT MANAGEMENTDevelopments in advanced technologies have been the greatest factor which influenced changesin intermodal freight transportation. Some of the advanced technologies which have thoroughly

    transformed the nations transportation system are information technology used in freight

    transportation system.

    Information Technology-

    Information technology plays an important part in intermodal freight transport. IT has enabled its

    users to plan, track audit and document intermodal shipments in real time.Intermodal freight movement is increasingly become mode invisible as the ability to interconnect

    and interchange information among the modes is optimized.

    The Transportation efficiency act for the 21st century focused on maturing informationtechnologies and their development. The U.S department of Transportation (DOT) created the

    Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) architecture and drafting of related standards. ITS

    represents the application of advanced technologies involving information processing,

    electronics and communications, and management strategies, to improve intermodaltransportation system.

    DOT was required to develop intermodal transportation data base (ITDB). The ITDB provides a

    single data mining portal from all the Bureau of transportation statistics (BTS) and DOToperating units.

    The website will provide analysts and the public with transportation safety,

    demographics, travel, and economic statistics.

    As companies connect, the growing use of internet and the trends in electronic commerce appearto be improving the visibility of inventory and its location within supply chains.

    VEHICLE AND CARGO TRACKING TECHNOLOGIESCargo Tracking Technologies include Bar Code with Laser Read out, Magnetic Card and Strip

    Reader, Smart Cards, Radio Frequency Cards, Transponders and Readers. Vehicle

    Tracking Technologies mainly employ the use of the positional information from theGlobal Position System (GPS) which provides real-time tracking of the vehicle and cargo



    Radiolocation or Navigational Systems have emerged with well-developed cellular or

    communication channels. This combines Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) with paging, voiceand data communication to a national or regional dispatch and logistics node.


  • 7/28/2019 Trends in Intermodal Freight Transport


    EDI, systems take information from all available sources and make decisions and perfo


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