Intermodal vs. over-the-road: Checking in at your first stop
Now that we’ve covered what a carrier should do before they head to their first destination (the rail or warehouse), it’s time to focus on what a carrier needs to do once they’ve actually arrived at that point.
To fully start an intermodal trip, a carrier would need to check in at the rail yard to pick up a container. They will then use this container to go to and from the warehouse, whether the trip involves picking up freight from the rail and delivering it or picking up an empty container to get loaded at a warehouse.
What is a check-in like? It’s a pretty standard process that ensures the carrier has a reason to be at the yard. Every carrier needs to check in no matter how many times they’ve been there, and major rail yard will make a carrier register before checking in if this is their first time at that particular yard. Remember those rail apps we talked about in the last blog that allow carriers to see if their container has grounded? They can also be used to check in at the rail yards quicker! By pre-registering, drivers can get in and out of there as quick as possible.
It’s also critical for carriers to get to the rail yard early enough so that they can make it to their appointment time at the warehouse. When should a carrier arrive at the yard? If they have a strict appointment time, they should head over a few hours before. If it’s a wide-open appointment window, there’s definitely some flexibility. However, DrayNow carriers like Daryl H. say it’s better to show up early to beat the mad rush at the yard.
The check-in process for an over-the-road trip doesn’t require quite as many steps. For one, the carrier does not need to head to a rail yard. Their trip starts at one of the two warehouses the carrier will be traveling to. The carrier will either show up to get their trailer loaded, or pick up a trailer full of freight and get ready for the long journey ahead.
With intermodal runs, a carrier with the right resources in hand knows with certainty that when they get to the rail yard, their loaded or empty container will be available to take to the warehouse. This certainty is not as apparent in over-the-road, where the trailer they’re picking up may not be fully loaded by the time of their arrival, or a driver has to wait a while for their trailer to get loaded.
Once a carrier has successfully arrived and checked in at the rail/warehouse and their container/trailer is ready to go, the next step would be to check the equipment to make sure that everything is in the clear so that there won’t be any preventable issues along the way. We’ll be covering that in our next blog, so stay tuned!
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