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Are There Visibility Solutions for Intermodal Transportation?

December 8, 2023

With market needs continuing to shift as consumer habits and demands fluctuate, supply chain directors must remain flexible and adaptive with their approach to management. With the increasing popularity of global e-commerce and the growing need for faster and more innovative shipping and container tracking options, intermodal transportation is a hot topic among shippers and carriers. As with all transportation services, visibility and traceability are essential for future growth and success.

Understanding the Connection Between Intermodal Transportation and Network Visibility

Intermodal transportation and visibility go hand in hand, and both connect in many undeniable ways. One feeds into the other, and when something goes wrong on one side, it creates a ripple effect that can throw off the entirety of the intermodal supply chain. From lost deliveries, shipping delays, and increased demurrage and holding fees, both of these aspects of intermodal shipping must be established and maintained. All it takes is one thing going wrong due to poor visibility and connectivity to cause the entire supply chain to feel the effect. Poor communication about shipping status can bring about delivery delays and missed loading opportunities at the docks, which in turn will cause further delays for the customer receiving their shipment. Network visibility and intermodal shipping services remain essential for smooth transportation management. 

How Poor Visibility and Weak Integration Hurts Shippers and Carriers

Poor supply chain visibility affects everything from capacity procurement to tracking and monitoring and consumer communications and delivery success rates. A lack of visibility within the intermodal transportation network can affect bottom-line profits by influencing rates and prices, fees and demurrage, and costly delays and bottlenecks. According to The Journal of Commerce, it is estimated that the total value of the intermodal freight shipping and visibility services market grew to nearly $300 million in 2020 in North America alone. That number will likely continue to grow to as much as $1 billion by 2024. For sustainable growth and return on investment, visibility remains critical. Without solid technological integration and a firm plan for visibility, supply chains will eventually stagnate and fade as more capable and advanced service providers take over the market. Without end-to-end visibility and transparency, the entirety of the intermodal supply chain will find itself at a disadvantage in the coming years.

Maximizing Visibility With Intermodal Transportation Methods

A wide range of options is available for intermodal shipping managers that can help to maximize visibility within the network. While every one of these might not be feasible for every transportation service provider, they can all help improve network transparency and end-to-end visibility.

  • Align company goals to boost network objectives and collaborations. 
  • Choose shipping partnerships wisely, with proper vetting and onboarding processes.
  • Establish contracts sensibly with diversity in mind to maximize capacity requests.
  • Standardize the day-to-day internal processes and automate systems when possible.
  • Make it easy for service providers, team members, and managers to collaborate.
  • Connect intermodal networks with cloud-based technology and data-sharing services.
  • Gather, analyze, and use data with transparency and visibility in mind at all times.
  • Integrate new technologies to improve network efficiency and scalability.
  • Maintain strong lines of communication in the supply chain and with customers.
  • Keep adaptability, scalability, and productivity front and center for the network.

With these processes in mind, logistics managers can begin building intermodal transportation services that meet consumers' changing wants, needs, and demands today. 

Maximize Growth and Efficiency with Innovative Visibility Solutions for Intermodal Transportation

As the transportation industry continues to shift to meet consumer demands and global markets, supply chain directors must remain flexible and adaptive with their intermodal shipping and transportation offerings. As with all transportation services, visibility and track and trace capability are essential for growth and success. By embracing technology and implementing ground-breaking changes and enhancements, maximizing growth and improving overall efficiency for the global market is possible. It all starts with innovation, collaboration, the right software and the right service provider on the team. Connect with OpenTrack to learn more today.

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