Intermodal vs. over-the-road: What you need to start a trip
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How does a carrier even get started with finding loads to take for their trucking operation? With services like DrayNow, they can simply download and sign up for the app, and find local loads in their market in no time. Once a carrier has their first trip on deck, it’s time to look at what they need to know and do to prepare for this trip.
First things first: every trucking trip has an appointment time for when the freight needs to be picked up and delivered. The reason appointment times are so important is that this trip is just one of the many steps in the supply chain. If the carrier or anyone else doesn’t do their part, or it’s not done in time, the whole chain is busted.
What equipment do carriers need to get started on the trip? For intermodal, all they need is their tractor unit. The container and chassis both come from the rail yard, so they’re good to go for the time being. For over-the-road trips, the carrier may have to show up with their truck and a trailer, but sometimes the shipper will have a specific trailer at the warehouse that the carrier will take.
For intermodal runs, the carrier has to pick up the container from the rail yard, either an empty to then load at the shipper, or a loaded container to bring to the consignee. But how do you know if your container is available at the rail yard? The great thing about having multiple modes involved in a trip is that there are plenty of status updates along the way. When a container is grounded, it’s off the train and ready to be picked up. The major railroads provide resources to check the grounding status of the container. What are these resources? Apps! Available to download for free right onto your phone.
Not only can these apps alert you when a container is ready, but they can also help at checking in at the rail yard, and finding empty containers to get loaded at the warehouse. Having to pick up a container may be an extra step over an over-the-road run, but these apps are there to make it as easy as possible and cutting down on the time spent going in and out of the rail yard.
Like with intermodal, over-the-road trips have strict appointment times, but it’s not always totally certain that the freight will be ready when you arrive at the warehouse. The carrier may receive communications from the warehouse or another party if there’s a delay, but there’s no centralized method quite like the rail apps to check for status updates.
Now that we’ve covered everything a carrier needs to know before to head to their first destination (the rail or warehouse), stay tuned for next week’s installment of this series, where we’ll be going over the tips and tricks of the check-in process at each starting point. If you missed last week’s blog on the carrier expenses in both intermodal and over-the-road trucking, check it out here!
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