Posted on: 22 February 2017Share
If your company is switching from one form of shipping to intermodal trucking and shipping, such as through a place like First Star Logistics, you have to clear up some questions to ensure your goods don't encounter delays. As your goods travel from ship to rail to truck or to another form of transportation, having these questions settled will let you concentrate on other business issues and not whether your goods will arrive in good shape.
Ensuring No Defects
In intermodal transport, your goods have to be loaded into a container that will work with all forms of transport. One problem truck drivers often encounter is finding they're supposed to pick up containers that turn out to have some structural defects. If the truck driver can escape the notice of the local highway patrol and truck inspection stations, those defects might not matter. But if law enforcement finds the container that is now on the truck is not considered safe to use on the road, that could delay your shipping.
Always ask the intermodal company you're working with about how they ensure their containers are usable for all forms of transportation. Ask them how they handle delays in which the truck driver spots a problem before attaching the container to his or her truck; the driver should refuse to carry a defective container, but you want to hear that confirmed by the company.
Depending on where your cargo is landing in the country, the intermodal company's trucks may not be able to pick it up if the trucks don't meet local standards. For example, in 2012, the Port of Long Beach in California banned older truck models, ones from 2006 and earlier, as a way to control pollution at the port. If your chosen intermodal company has to pick something up from the Port of Long Beach, then, the trucks have to be 2007 models or newer. Verify that the company is aware of regulations like these and has the fleet necessary to meet these requirements.
Contract or Spot Pricing
Another issue is pricing. If you're looking at switching long-term to intermodal transport, you have the option of going with spot pricing, or one-off prices per trip, and contract pricing, in which you pay a level fee each month for service. The drawback to a contract is that if spot prices drop, you'll be paying more with a contract than you would have with a spot price. Yet contracts protect you from sudden price rises, so look at how many trips you think you'll be doing via intermodal transport.
Intermodal trucking companies know new customers will have a lot of questions. Be sure you get a chance to ask yours before choosing a company.