You've been working hard to grow your business and have reached a point where storing your merchandise is getting tougher. One solution to that problem is using a bonded warehouse.
A customs bonded warehouse, or simply bonded warehouse, is a storage space for imported goods to be kept until taxes have been paid. Goods may remain in a bonded warehouse for five years. Although the goods can’t be sold, they can be altered or undergo manufacturing operations. Duty is paid when the goods are withdrawn.
Learn the basics about bonded warehouses, the benefits of using them, what the requirements are, and more.
As mentioned, a bonded warehouse is a storage area for imported goods on which duty tax must be paid. Although the term warehouse is used, it can be any secure space, building, or otherwise. Bonded warehousing was developed to help shippers better manage their merchandise and allow them time to prepare goods for distribution.
You can keep your goods in a bonded warehouse for up to five years without paying the duty fees. During this time, you can make any necessary changes to get your imports ready for distribution. This could mean changing packaging, adding necessary labels, or even just waiting until demand has increased.
These classes are specific to the U.S. and may not apply to other countries. If you are considering using a bonded warehouse, consult an expert with knowledge about the variety of options and differences found internationally.
Since bonded warehouses are used mainly for imported products, they are often found near ports of entry. The busier the port of entry, the more likely there are to be a variety of warehouses available.
Working with a 3PL logistics company for your warehousing needs may help you find a suitable location that meets your needs.
During economically challenging times, such as those being experienced now during the coronavirus pandemic, a customs bonded warehouse can be an import businesses’ saving grace. The ability to keep goods and merchandise safe and secure and defer customs duties for a time has helped many businesses avoid bankruptcy.
Consider some other specific benefits;
Whether importers are facing disruptions to their supply chain or getting overwhelmed by inventory that simply isn’t in demand anymore, bonded warehousing can provide short and long-term solutions for storing their goods until the market improves.
For importers, there are few disadvantages to bonded warehouses. However, there are certain restrictions to consider.
Despite these restrictions, bonded warehouses remain the most common and most secure way importers have of protecting their shipments and their businesses.
A customs bonded warehouse is only available for storage and manufacturing of imported materials. Any products produced or manufactured domestically are not eligible.
If you want to establish a bonded warehouse, applications are done through the CBP. The requirements are as follows:
Some classes of warehouses will have additional requirements, so be sure to check with official CBP guidelines during the application process. Also, be ready to provide a list of names, addresses, and even fingerprints of individuals who will have access to sensitive information, such as official port records.
A bonded warehouse can be used by the CBP, bonded warehouse owners, importers, and related third parties. For these parties, the CBP has provided a bonded warehouse manual that details the application process, types of merchandise allowed, exemptions and restrictions, and more.
The main difference between a bonded and non-bonded warehouse is their connection to U.S. Customs. The connection to customs is what allows importers to defer payment of duties until goods leave the warehouse.
In the case of a non-bonded warehouse, duties and taxes may need to be paid upfront. There is also an increased chance that any errors in paperwork or unexpected delays will cause your merchandise to be seized or even destroyed. A non-bonded warehouse is more likely to be used for storage of domestically produced merchandise for these reasons.
When you need a solution for your warehousing needs, contact the team of professionals at R+L Global Logistics. We provide warehousing and distribution services all around the country and you can rest easy knowing your products will be safe and secure.
Speak with an R+L Global Logistics representative and see if bonded warehouses are right for you. We can also assist with finding solutions for pick and pack fulfillment, cross docking transload, kitting services and more.
Our team stands ready to be your partner and help your business grow to new heights.
In today’s logistics climate, simply securing capacity for your freight is an outright challenge. Even when you can get your products onto a truck, ship, train, or plane, it might seem like the price to do so is only going up by the day. That’s why being able to get the truth behind how transloading costs are calculated can help you make the best decision when looking to move your freight.
Transloading costs can be explained by aspects such as the distance traveled, the number of times the freight must be transloaded, and the quantity and type of your commodity. The current availability of shipping resources can cause these costs to fluctuate. A 3PL provider with reliable access to shipping resources can help stabilize transloading costs.
Wading through transloading costs is not something you have to do alone. Third-party logistics companies should offer full transparency on everything that makes up a price quote and be able to explain any charges in relation to it.
Our informative guide below provides you with helpful information regarding transload costs so that you can make an informed decision.
When you receive a price quote on transloading for your freight, the cost to you is carefully calculated to account for a number of things. These factors include the logistics company’s overhead, the actual dollar amount linked with the movement of freight and, of course, a profit for the logistics company.
Of those three different buckets of what drives the costs of transloading services up or down, the first two have the biggest influence. As a general rule of thumb, every mile a load travels and every time freight needs to be touched by workers, costs will be increased. Really, any work or effort that is required to make sure the freight can undergo its journey will increase the overall costs.
Here’s a more detailed look at what goes into transloading costs:
The last factor, commodity type, has to do with the characteristics of the freight. This includes whether it’s an easily breakable item that needs extra precautions or something that’s less prone to damage. Whether or not the goods are considered hazardous materials will also come into play when calculating the costs.
Another aspect in transloading that might not directly impact costs is the efficiency in which transloading is carried out. The entire purpose behind deploying transloading is because it’s the most favorable way to do so in a given scenario and should see cost savings for you. If it’s not done very well and intelligently, it can actually be less efficient than other ways and cost more money or take longer. In turn, this will also cost more in the long run.
To keep both the time and money that is supposed to be saved in this endeavor, make sure to partner with a logistics company that is going to transload smarter, not make things harder for you.
Even though your goods might not be in your hands during any part of its shipment, you still have some ways to prepare ahead of time to make sure the transloading process goes smoothly. Theoretically, if the process goes well, you shouldn’t incur additional costs on the back end.
Buying freight insurance for a transload is not a law, but it’s simply smart business and here’s why: transloading is a very hands-on process, for better or worse. What this means is the potential for damage is greater. This can result in a depreciated asset or a total loss altogether.
Plus, if you have shipping containers with thousands of dollars worth of freight, not every single instance of possible loss is covered with the logistics company’s provided insurance. So for an added outlay, you can cover the commodities’ value up to 100 percent.
If your freight is coming from overseas, making sure all of your customs paperwork is filed and ready will make things run much simpler. This will ensure that your freight doesn’t experience a significant delay at the port of entry. Avoiding customs clearance delays is a critical step in ensuring your supply chain is operating at peak efficiency.
Currently, it’s harder than ever to book any freight last-minute — regardless of the type of transport. If it’s even available, you will be paying higher transportation costs to have freight shipped quicker.
To combat this, try to plan ahead as far in advance as possible. This means ordering as soon as you know you’ll need that freight. This gets you secured while also giving the logistics company plenty of lead time to get the spots you need.
Sometimes there’s just no way around higher transloading costs, especially in the current environment. However, R+L Global Logistics will work with you to find solutions to move your freight in a cost-effective way to fit a variety of budgets.
R+L Global Logistics prides itself on being able to handle anything a customer can throw at us in terms of transloading, and do it with high quality. We know the types of transport needed, the locations the goods need to travel to and the right way to tie it all together to get your load to its final destination.
In addition to transloading, R+L Global Logistics offers many other services tied to the distribution of your products. Those include:
Going with a company that will be transparent about transloading costs builds trust and gives you the opportunity to make the best decision for your business. Give R+L Global Logistics the chance to prove it’s the optimal choice by calling (866) 989-3082 today for a free quote.
Ports around the United States are currently battling some of the worst port congestion that the country has ever seen. Worker shortages, lack of space, container scarcity and increased consumer demand have all caused the U.S. supply chain to grind to a halt, and nowhere is that more evident than on the West Coast.
Potential benefits of transloading for West Coast port congestion include reduced lead times, access to alternate ports, access to storage, and the ability to combat the global container shortage. Working with an experienced 3PL with access to ocean, air, truck and rail gives you options when battling port congestion.
Read on to learn more about what ports are being affected, the factors causing the congestion, and how transloading can help provide solutions.
Essentially every major port in North America is experiencing some level of congestion. The two ports at the heart of the issue, however, are the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, both located in the San Pedro Bay on the coast of Southern California.
Together, these two ports account for around 40-percent of all containerized cargo imported into the U.S. each year. That level of volume combined with the bottlenecks occurring at these ports has created a recipe for a supply chain disaster.
Dozens of container ships remain anchored outside of these ports, peaking at as many as 79 in late October. Combined, these ships account for tens of thousands of shipping containers filled with cargo waiting to be unloaded.
It hasn’t been just the West Coast ports either. While the major West Coast ports like LA and Long Beach have experienced the brunt of the issues, East Coast ports have experienced their own problems.
The Port of Savannah is more congested than it’s ever been and ports like those in New York and New Jersey are experiencing similar issues. This is partly due to the fact that port congestion, in general, is an issue nationwide. However, these issues are exacerbated by the fact that some shippers have started rerouting their cargo to other ports. While this helps to alleviate congestion at one port, it worsens the issue at another.
Nearly every issue impacting the global supply chain right now can be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a container shortage or congestion issues before the pandemic, but the coronavirus didn’t just create new issues - it magnified existing ones.
COVID restrictions and shutdowns closed many factories and warehouses worldwide, creating backlogs in production, distribution and international trade. At the same time, consumer demand for online goods reached unprecedented levels as spending shifted from service-oriented expenditures, like restaurants, movies and travel, to personal goods.
The increased trade volume created backlogs that have trickled down from production lines to distribution as each link in the supply chain attempts to catch up. Compounding that, many companies have had a difficult time convincing people to return to work. That includes factory workers, warehouse staff, dockworkers and even truck drivers.
“They’ve lost a lot of players. There’s a lot of people that are very afraid, there’s a lot of people who have moved to different industries. So you’ve got that lack of manpower,” said John Kilbride, Director of Fulfillment and Distribution for R+L Global Logistics. “That caused the backup. And the flow is pretty dramatic, it’s not something you just pick back up. It’s very hard to get caught up.”
As companies attempt to battle the stop-start effect caused by the pandemic, businesses are now trying to produce and distribute more cargo using fewer people. This has led to the bottlenecks and congestion that we’re seeing today, not just at the ports of entry, but inland as well.
If you want to understand the root of the port congestion issue, you actually have to look further inland. Some of the biggest factors impacting congestion away from the port include:
According to the American Trucking Association, there was already a shortage of more than 60 thousand drivers before the pandemic. Now, that number has shot up to more than 80 thousand. There’s also a shortage of warehouse workers, and without the manpower or the space to handle all of the inbound cargo and move the goods through these facilities, the entire process is delayed.
The hours that these facilities operate is a concern as well. In an effort to alleviate port congestion, both Southern California ports have gone to a 24-hour workday. While that sounds like a great idea, it’s actually done very little to solve the problem due to the fact that the containers that are unloaded from the ships have nowhere to go.
While the ports have expanded their hours, many of the nearby warehouses and distribution centers have not. Truck drivers aren’t even coming to pick up containers from the port during the new early morning hours because there are no facilities to take them to once they do. As a result, the new hours have done very little to fix the issue.
Congestion at ports is nothing new. Ports operate on tight deadlines and require the cooperation of thousands of dockworkers, truck drivers, and crew members, among other staff. Even on the best days, it’s hard to keep a port of entry working like a well-oiled machine. Once you add the current situation into the mix, ports grind to a halt. Some of the key factors affecting ports include:
Over the past month, ships anchored in San Pedro Bay have waited an average of 10 days before getting the opportunity to dock and unload their cargo at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Once unloaded, that cargo remains untouched for up to a week before it has the chance to be picked up for distribution.
Typically in container transloading, containers are unloaded, hauled to a nearby warehouse or distribution facility, and either unloaded or transported to their destination. Once finished, the empty containers are returned to the port where they’re loaded back onto the ship and put back into the rotation for international trade.
The issue now is that because things are so backed up and there are shortages of drivers, space and equipment, containers that are offloaded from the ship are now stuck at the port. Many off-site facilities don’t have the manpower to handle the incoming cargo, the truck drivers or chassis capable of transporting the cargo to facilities, nor do the ports have enough yard space to store all of the leftover containers.
Because so many containers are unable to leave the port, new containers are unable to be offloaded from ships, and this causes a chain reaction forcing ships to anchor outside of the port for days at a time before enough space is made available.
This has also been exacerbated by the ongoing shipping container shortage. Not only has the increased demand for goods put a strain on the existing container supply, but because of this gridlock, many empty containers are unable to be loaded back onto ships. This past September, in fact, the Port of Los Angeles saw more than 360 thousand empty containers, a 28-percent increase over last year.
The ‘Great Supply Chain Disruption’, as this crisis has been not so affectionately nicknamed, has had a huge impact on costs that have rippled down through each link in the supply chain.
According to Freightos, the average cost of shipping a container has skyrocketed from around $1,300 in March of 2020, prior to the pandemic, to more than $10,000 now. Additionally, a report from Container xChange earlier this year indicates that demurrage charges have more than doubled in 2021, increasing by an average of 104-percent worldwide.
Essentially every facet of the supply chain has been affected somehow with increased costs for warehousing, distribution, drayage, detention, you name it.
Despite the congestion and increased prices, business hasn’t slowed at any of the major ports. In fact, The port of Los Angeles actually recorded its busiest September on record. The port processed more than 900 thousand TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) in September, bringing its year-to-date volume up to 8.2 million TEU, a 26-percent increase over 2020.
For months now, industry experts have attempted to find solutions to port congestion. Truthfully, there’s no “magic bullet” that is going to instantly relieve the gridlock, but there are actions that can be taken to reduce lead times, increase flexibility, and, in some cases, even help keep the supply chain moving for everyone. Transloading is one of those solutions.
So, how does transloading help our current situation? The short answer is that transloading alone can’t solve the current congestion issues in their entirety. However, it can help alleviate some of the problems many importers are currently experiencing.
Transloading, by its definition, is the process of moving cargo from one mode of transportation to another, often with some level of handling and/or storage in between. This helps keep the supply chain moving and ensures goods arrive at their final destination in a timely manner.
When shipping commodities, there are four different methods you can use: air, ocean, truck and rail. Individually, these modes have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses when it comes to logistics and transport.
During normal times, in fact, two or more of those methods would be used to complete a single freight shipment. That’s called intermodal shipping. Another defining characteristic of intermodal shipping is that the shipping containers themselves get moved between modes of transport, not the individual goods.
Transloading is considered a “cousin” of intermodal. The key difference is that during transloading, the goods inside the shipping containers are unloaded and then loaded onto a different vehicle. This can be truck to rail, ship to truck, or any other combination of transport, as long as the freight — and not the shipping containers containing the freight — is offloaded and reloaded.
It’s important to make the distinction because both of these shipping methods can be used to help with port congestion issues and keep global trade moving. Many freight loads benefit from intermodal shipment already, but transloading is becoming more and more of an option in the face of port delays. Some of the benefits that transload services can provide in combating port congestion are listed below.
One of the defining characteristics of transloading is that it involves multiple modes of transportation, meaning it doesn’t pigeonhole shippers into using just one method. This helps to reduce lead times.
Transloading gives shippers the ability to transport cargo using whatever means necessary. That means that if there aren’t enough drivers to efficiently ship your good over the road, you have the option to haul them to a rail transload facility and get them on a train car for a cross-country trip instead. The same goes for air or even another ship using a small inland port.
The point is, transloading gives shippers options. It helps increase the likelihood of moving freight and opens up the supply chain by allowing you to ship by more than one method. Finding a 3PL (third-party logistics) with contacts for air, sea and land is crucial to securing a haul and getting your cargo transloaded and on the move.
As mentioned before, transloading expands your options, including access to alternate ports of entry.
If the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are too congested, it’s possible to alter the shipping route to enter through another port. From there, the cargo can be transloaded onto a train, truck, or any other form of transportation, and travel the rest of the way to its destination.
Obviously, changing ports comes with its own complications, such as higher transport costs, increased transit times, etc. But depending on the situation at the original port, like long wait times and expensive demurrage fees, the costs may be reduced or offset.
As for the two Los Angeles-based ports, alternatives include smaller ports like:
As well as larger ports like:
The truth is, this nationwide port congestion issue isn’t going away any time soon. However, one way that importers have found to combat the situation is by seeking out storage options ahead of time.
When goods arrive at a transload facility, one of two things happen. They’re emptied out of their shipping container, sorted, palletized, and either loaded onto an outbound vehicle for the next leg of their journey, or put into storage until their needed.
By transloading, as opposed to cross docking, you have the option to order your goods ahead of time and place them into short-term or long-term storage so that by the time you need them, you don’t have to go through the entire shipping process again. It’s worth noting that this option does require you to estimate your volume ahead of time and find a facility with adequate space available.
Another benefit of transloading is that as opposed to intermodal shipping, transloading helps get shipping containers back into the supply chain rotation.
When overseas transloading occurs, goods are removed from the international, or maritime, container that they traveled across the ocean in, and transferred into a domestic container. This is an advantage for two reasons.
Most importantly, this helps to combat the current container shortage by freeing up international containers and putting them back into the rotation. There are countless goods around the world just waiting for distribution, but there aren’t currently enough containers to move them all. By transferring the goods into domestic containers, rather than transporting the entire international container inland, those initial containers are freed up and are able to be loaded with new goods.
Secondly, by transloading cargo into domestic containers, you’re able to move goods more efficiently. International containers typically come in either 20- or 40-foot lengths as opposed to domestic containers which can come in up to 53 feet in length and store 60-percent more cargo than a standard 40-foot container.
That means that goods from three 40-foot containers are able to be consolidated into two 53-foot containers. Far more cargo is able to be moved in just a single container this way as opposed to moving more of the 20- or 40-foot containers.
According to many industry experts, major port congestion is expected to remain an issue for at least the next year, and likely longer. With Fulfillment and Distribution, Powered by R+L Global Logistics, you can work with and get full access to facilities that are properly equipped to combat these issues for years to come.
Our team is equipped to handle any and all supply chain challenges that may come your way, including port congestion. Thanks to our strategically located resources and vast knowledge and experience, we can handle all of your logistics needs. Fill out a hassle-free quote today and our team will get to work on creating a strategy-driven and efficient approach for your supply chain needs.
Shippers looking to move large shipments of loose or oddly-shaped cargo often turn to container transloading to get the job done. This approach is specifically effective for shipments that move overseas or over long distances to multiple destinations.
Container transloading gives shippers the ability to better manage their inventory, transport additional cargo, reduce costs and increase supply chain efficiency. Transload containers are commonly used for overseas shipments but can be used for transloading between truck and rail as well.
Our guide below outlines the specifics of what container transloading is, when it should be used, and more.
A transload container is simply a shipping container that is loaded with cargo and put onto a boat, truck, or rail car for transport. Once it reaches a transload facility, goods from the container are unloaded and either placed into a new container or straight onto another form of transportation for the next leg of the delivery.
Transload containers are primarily associated with overseas transport and huge cargo ships, but container transloading can also occur between truck and rail. Transloading requires that a combination of at least two forms of transportation are used throughout the process. However, ships, trucks and rail cars are all used to haul shipping containers.
Shipping containers are typically made of corrugated steel with plywood flooring and double doors affixed to one side. While containers are universally measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), they can generally be divided into domestic and maritime containers. Both of these types come in specific shapes and sizes.
When it comes to overseas shipping, fitting as many containers on board as possible is a priority.
As a result, maritime, or international containers, have some standard dimensions. These dimensions include:
These units can typically be stacked up to 10 high.
Domestic containers, on the other hand, which are only used in North America, and primarily in the U.S., have slightly different standard dimensions:
Containers that are within the dimensions listed above are typically used for transport on road and rail.
Though both maritime and domestic containers are made of the same materials and constructed similarly, they differ in terms of their stackability. Domestic containers can only stack up to 3 units on top of each other, while maritime units go up to 10 high. However, oversized domestic containers can hold significantly more cargo.
Transloading is the process of transferring a shipment from one mode of transportation to another, typically with minimal handling involved. When transloading services are performed, goods are unloaded from their original containers and transferred into a new one before being loaded onto a new form of transportation for the next leg of the journey.
Intermodal is similar to transloading in that it involves the movement of goods using multiple forms of transportation. However, in intermodal shipping, the goods remain in the same container throughout the entire delivery, and it’s the container that’s transferred between modes of transportation, not the goods themselves.
Both transloading and intermodal are services used when one form of transportation won’t be enough to get the goods to their final destination. The two strategies are also used when it would be more efficient or cost-effective to move the goods using multiple forms of transportation.
The rise of international trade and eCommerce has led to increased use of both transloading services and containerized shipping. Shipping containers are among the best options available for moving large amounts of freight, especially overseas. Additionally, transloading doesn’t require a specific container to be used and is seen as both a way to lower costs and increase efficiency.
By using container transloading, shippers are able to load as much loose cargo or oddly-shaped items as can fit into a shipping container. At that point, the cargo is shipped overseas or across the country using multiple forms of transportation to get the job done.
There are many reasons why shippers would be inclined to use container transloading, from cost savings to inventory management. Some of the most common reasons are listed below.
There are many reasons to choose container transloading, but chief among them is the ability that it gives shippers to consolidate freight and save on transport costs.
Because maritime containers are limited to the 20-foot and 40-foot options, having the ability to consolidate the cargo into the larger 48- or- 53-foot domestic containers allows the shipper to load more cargo into fewer containers. The 48-foot containers have 29 percent more capacity than the standard 40-foot high-cube containers, while the 53-foot containers have 60 percent more capacity. That means that goods from three 40-foot containers are able to be consolidated into two 53-foot containers.
Generally speaking, the cost of moving shipping containers is based on the number of units being hauled, not their weight. So the fewer containers a shipper can consolidate their cargo into, the less money the shipper has to spend on transport costs.
Typically, when goods are shipped from overseas, loose cargo is floor-loaded into shipping containers and then palletized once it reaches a transloading facility. Floor loading allows a shipper to fit as many goods as possible into one container, which is a priority for overseas shipments
Once a shipment reaches the facility, the goods will likely be sent to several different destinations or stored until needed. It makes more sense to unpack, sort and palletize the goods at that point than to do so prior to the cross-seas voyage. Once palletized, the goods are loaded into a new container and put onto an outgoing truck for final delivery.
Palletizing goods has some important benefits in the overall supply chain, including:
The benefits above make the palletization of products a no-brainer in most situations.
Another advantage that the transloading process gives shippers is more control over their inventory management and more flexibility throughout the supply chain. This is especially helpful in reducing port congestion.
Typically, when a shipment is made without the use of a transloading service, it’s sent directly to the end-user. The destination is chosen well before the goods are shipped, and with no opportunity to redirect the shipment. The shipper is forced to complete the delivery as originally scheduled, regardless of how the market changes while the goods are in transit.
During container transloading, shippers are able to delay the decision and make adjustments to the final destination while the goods are still in transit. Once the goods reach the transloading facility, they will be unloaded, processed, and transferred to new containers. Based on how demand may have changed while the goods were on their way there, the shipper has the opportunity to redirect the goods or consolidate the cargo into shipments to a different store or warehouse.
While most shippers try to consolidate cargo into as few containers as possible, occasionally you may run into issues when a state or region has a specific weight limit. For example, many states in the U.S. allow specialized trucks to carry 55,000 pounds or more of cargo in a 40-foot container. However, in most of California, you’re only able to carry up to 47,000 pounds.
In some cases, you can get around this issue by using a specialized vehicle and by holding an overweight permit. However, if those options are unavailable, you may need to distribute the cargo across multiple containers at the transload facility to get each container under the weight limit before the delivery can proceed.
Demurrage and detention refer to the fees charged when a container is not returned where it belongs after a set amount of time. Demurrage occurs when a container has overstayed its allotted time at a terminal, while detention occurs when an empty container is past due for its return.
When a container is unloaded at a transloading facility, it’s able to be returned much more quickly, avoiding any additional fees. As opposed to intermodal shipping, the transload container never leaves the terminal itself. Instead, its goods are unloaded and transferred to a new container. Similarly, once the container arrives at the facility, it should be pre-cleared for unloading and transport so that it doesn’t overstay its allowed time at the terminal.
Now that you know more about container transloading, let R+L Global Logistics help you get started with your logistics and distribution. We use our vast network of locations and variety of services to get the job done right, no matter your supply chain needs.
Our team is equipped to handle any and all supply chain challenges that you’re facing. Thanks to our strategically located resources and vast knowledge and experience, we can handle all of your logistics needs.
Fill out a hassle-free quote today and our team will get to work on creating a strategy-driven and efficient approach for your supply chain needs.
The logistics of shipping freight from one point to another can present challenges when transloading is required along the way. The ability to use multiple forms of transportation to get freight delivered provides a competitive edge for shippers. However, selecting a transload facility takes some work to find the right match.
A transload facility is a place where freight is transferred from one mode of transportation to another. Freight is often transferred from ocean to rail, rail to truck, or ocean to truck. These facilities need to have specialized equipment and resources to complete the transload process.
A transload facility is a critical tool for shippers working to get their goods in place efficiently and stress-free. In this article, we’ll discuss what to look for when choosing a transload facility including services, equipment and capacity.
While it may be the first time working with a transloading facility, the concept has been around for a long time. This is the behind-the-scenes action of sorts in the transportation industry. The basic idea of a transloading facility is to take freight from one mode of transportation and put it on another. Most transload facilities are situated in strategic locations to make the entire process seamless.
As an example, a bulk load of steel may arrive in a truck, but need to be reloaded onto a rail car or ocean vessel. Once the steel arrives in port it will likely be transferred back to a truck for last-mile delivery.
However, the entire process is considered transloading. Some shippers like knowing that unloading and reloading shipments occur at a transloading facility where it’s handled professionally and the risk of damage is minimized.
In general, transloading facilities are located near airports or ocean ports, while others are connected to rail spurs situated in regional shipping hubs. The sole function of a transloading facility is to accommodate transferring freight from one mode of transportation to another.
One of the first things to consider when researching a transloading facility is what type of services are available along with the equipment to do the heavy lifting. This is an important factor in the decision process because not all facilities are able to handle certain types of freight.
Make sure to ask about available transloading services pertaining to the freight that you’re looking to ship. For instance, a shipment inbound by rail car will likely require cranes or other specialized equipment to move an entire unit to a truck or vice versa. Additional specialized tools will need to be at the ready to promptly handle transloading. Liquid commodities like oil and milk require specific equipment to be properly transloaded.
Shippers do not have time to wait for the right equipment to be in place. Time is ticking and when the freight arrives it needs to be transloaded to the next vehicle toward delivery.
Questions to ask regarding equipment include:
In some cases, the shipper may need to have a large bulk delivery separated into smaller shipments and the right transloading facility can accommodate this task.
Ensuring freight reaches its final delivery point is a top priority for shippers when securing a transloading facility. The ideal facility will be within an accessible range for delivery.
Shippers may look to use a container transloading operation in a specific region of the country such as the busy eastern corridor of the United States. This corridor, home to a variety of ocean ports and regional manufacturing hubs, is an intricate network of transportation options, offering a seamless process.
Transloading throughout the West Coast of the U.S. or the southwest and Midwest covers critical shipping lanes throughout the country. A strategic logistics partner can assist with coordinating freight and all the other details from start to finish.
When you partner with our team, we develop the most effective strategy for your supply chain. We do this by understanding your unique needs and developing an efficient plan through our strategically located facilities and resources. Whether the freight is bulky and needs heavy equipment to move or the shipment is perishable and time-sensitive, R+L Global Logistics can coordinate transloading.
Moving freight is a 24-hour a day, 7-days a week job. Something is always in some phase of being transported. One of the main questions when looking for transload facilities is whether the site will have the operating capacity to handle a specific supply chain of incoming freight.
It may seem doable if the facility has peak times for certain commodities. However, as more shippers utilize transloading, the calendar gets crowded thanks to many shipments arriving and departing. It is important to ask about the operating capacity of a transload facility to make sure a shipment of food or pharmaceuticals is not overlooked if things are busy.
Working closely with a logistics expert can help eliminate the risk of freight being damaged. The goal is to get freight safely and efficiently where it needs to go quickly during the transloading process. Our team of experts will guide you through the entire process of transloading your goods.
Navigating the waters of transporting freight can be complicated if going it alone. Let Fulfillment and Distribution help with finding the right transloading facility to make the process seamless. Since Fulfillment and Distribution is powered by R+L Global Logistics, it means shippers have access to a full range of expert services and equipment to get the job done.
In addition to a network of warehousing space across the country, R+L Global Logistics offer warehouse services including:
Our logistics experts can also customize other services as requested. Reach out to our Fulfillment and Distribution team when you are ready to utilize a transloading facility. Fulfillment and Distribution, powered by R+L Global Logistics has the best solutions to maximize the reach of your business. Call (866) 989-3082 to obtain a free, cost-effective quote today.
Crude oil is used to make many things in our daily lives, from gasoline, to plastics, wax and even pharmaceuticals. However, obtaining the oil and finding a way to transport it to a refinery capable of processing it can pose a challenge. Transloading is a common solution to this challenge.
Transloading oil is necessary to transport petroleum from its point of origin to a facility capable of turning it into usable goods. The process requires specialized equipment including loading racks, metering systems and spill containment to transfer the oil from one mode of transport to another and to its destination.
Read on to learn more about transloading oil and the equipment necessary to complete the process successfully.
Transloading is the process of transferring a shipment from one form of transportation to another, typically with some degree of processing involved. Transload services are most commonly used when either one form of transportation won’t be enough to complete the job, or when it’s more efficient or cost-effective to use multiple modes of transportation.
Crude oil, also known as petroleum, is often found deep underground and in places far from any necessary infrastructure. Depending on its location, the nearest oil refinery or pipeline could be hundreds of miles away. Physical barriers like mountains and rivers can also make it difficult to transport the oil to its destination using only one form of transportation.
That’s where transloading comes in. Instead of attempting to transport the oil by tank truck alone, the truck will transport the oil to a railyard equipped with transload capabilities. From there, the truck transfers the oil to a number of rail cars where it will travel the rest of the way. By loading the oil onto a train, transport costs are reduced dramatically, and far more product is able to be moved in a single trip.
Transloading is a great option to efficiently transport goods from one place to another, but it requires specialized equipment in order to complete the process safely and successfully.
A variety of equipment is used at the transload facility in order to complete the process.
Transloading equipment includes:
Additionally, standard safety equipment (goggles, gloves, protective wear) is worn by workers throughout the process. No matter what equipment you’re using, it’s important to make sure that all of it meets the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) specifications.
The equipment listed is by no means a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need to transload oil, but it does include some of the most common and important pieces necessary to get started.
If you’re just looking for a provider to help you with transloading oil, you don’t need to be an expert on oil transloading equipment. An experienced and knowledgeable 3PL like R+L Global Logistics will take care of this for you. Our team has access to strategically located transload facilities with all of the required equipment. When you’re ready, request a quote from our team and get your oil moving.
A loading rack, also known as a transloader, is a piece of equipment necessary to access the hatches on a rail car or tank truck and transfer the oil. They can be outfitted to provide a variety of transload related tasks. This includes providing mobile capability, the ability to load rail cars from either the top or the bottom, or the ability to process multiple tanks at once.
Many loading racks are simple platforms fitted with loading arms. More complex loading racks can be outfitted with tracking gangways, elevating platforms, safety cages, and double-sided capability. These complex loading racks are often mobile units capable of completing their tasks anywhere at the transload facility.
The most important thing is that the rack should be designed for employee safety and fall protection. The stairs, platforms and gangways should all be non-slip and surrounded by guard rails. There should also be safety cages guarding the operator during the venting and loading process.
Loading arms, as well as hoses and hose arms, are all tools necessary to transfer the oil from the source to the rail car or tank truck. Loading arms can be either top-loading or bottom-loading, with bottom-loading being the industry-preferred option for a number of reasons:
No matter what type of loading arm or hose you’re using, make sure that it’s fitted with the proper valves, pumps and instrumentation required to prevent leaks and ensure a smooth transfer process.
Having the ability to control the flow and the amount of oil that gets transferred is crucial to the loading and unloading process and key to preventing spills.
Metering systems and skids give the operator control over some of the key aspects of the process, including:
In order to maintain an efficient and highly accurate oil transloading process, metering systems and skids are a must.
Spill containment track pans are necessary to prevent damage to employees and the environment in the case of a spill during the transloading process. Spills can happen when a seal fails while loading or unloading. Track pans are there to hold the drips, leaks or spills when they occur.
Spill pans are typically made of fiberglass, steel, or a combination of the two, and consist of a center pan for spills between the tracks, and two outrigger pans on each side. The pans typically contain drain ports that collect the oil after a spill and connect to drain pipes for removal.
An oil transloading facility is any installation that oversees the handling, storing, or processing of petroleum. It also has the ability to load it to and from trucks, ships, rail cars and pipelines. Oil transload facilities are outfitted with all of the equipment listed above and are often found at rail yards, ports and other terminals.
There are terminal and transload maps available for every type of bulk transload facility, including oil transloading facilities. Reach out to us and our team of supply chain specialists will find an oil transload facility that meets your needs.
Whether you’re transloading oil or any other type of product, R+L Global Logistics can help you get the job done right. We know the challenges that can come with fulfillment and distribution and understand your supply chain needs.
Our supply chain specialists take the time to listen to your needs. Once we understand your situation, our team crafts a custom plan designed to address your specific objectives. We utilize our strategic resources to their fullest extent in order to help you accomplish your supply chain goals.
Contact us today and let one of our supply chain experts answer your questions, or fill out a hassle-free quote and find a solution to all of your transloading needs.
You’ve got freight and need it moved — that might be as far as you’ve thought it through when beginning to formulate the plan for getting your goods from one place to another. But there are many different types of shipping methods to accomplish this goal, so it’s imperative to know and understand each option. You might find yourself choosing between transloading and intermodal. These are two kinds of shipment methodologies that essentially do the same thing but in slightly different ways.
In short, transloading sees freight unloaded from shipping containers onto another mode of transport in a different container. Intermodal has the freight never leaving its original container and the container itself is what’s moved between different modes of transportation.
Our guide below provides clear descriptions of what transloading and intermodal are. We also highlight their key differences so that you can understand how to incorporate both of them into your supply chain.
A true deep dive is a must to illustrate the difference between transloading and intermodal. So, let's start with what transloading is and why it’s used as a viable option in the transportation industry. Container transloading is the practice of freight starting in one shipping container and then being entirely unloaded into another shipping container to continue the shipping journey.
Transloading has many different examples and can be used within the same mode of transportation or across several. Some of the most common ways in which this occurs is:
Goods are also transloaded from air as well and are most commonly done from air to truck.
The actual act of transloading takes place at a dedicated transloading facility. This is a specialized place — often found alongside railroad tracks — that has the necessary personnel, equipment and strategic location in order to most efficiently carry out the process.
Most often, freight on a shipping container on a train is unloaded and then loaded into a truck. The truck then gets on a nearby highway to take the products to their final destination for retail or a warehouse to be stored until the time comes for it to hit the market.
Now that a full rundown of transloading has been given, let’s look at exactly what intermodal transportation is and how it can be a good fit to meet your shipping goals. Intermodal refers to the movement of entire shipping containers from one mode of transportation to another.
An example would be a shipping container being unloaded off an ocean liner — without the internal contents themselves being touched at this juncture — and directly onto a flatbed truck or rail car. The shipping containers used are referred to as intermodal containers since their specific goal is to be transferable.
With the supply chain being stressed in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, intermodal shipping is being utilized more often so that just one or two types of transportation aren’t being so heavily depended on.
2021 supply chain struggles include:
Even before COVID, it was becoming increasingly more likely that freight would not see just one method of movement. So, businesses and supply chain companies alike are trying to secure freight capacity. Utilizing intermodal shipping is one strategic way to get this done.
With a clear understanding of both, the only thing left to figure out is which one better suits your needs.. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both transloading and intermodal.
Similar to intermodal, transloading offers a significant amount of flexibility and cost savings. When you can unload and load freight onto any type of vehicle, that can be a huge asset. It’s a bit more varied than intermodal, which needs transport that can accommodate large shipping containers. That can make it more difficult or impossible to use traditional 18-wheelers. In the same sense, transloading can also be used with cross docking.
A transloading facility can also be set up near highways and along train tracks to take advantage of the United States’ existing infrastructure. Besides transloading facilities, transload also can help at U.S. ports. When it’s difficult to even reach the port itself, transloading can occur at sea between two ships. The ship that’s now holding the freight can access smaller ports and speed up the process.
There really is only one major potential drawback to using transloading services to move freight. The increased handling of goods increases the chances of damage or loss to your goods. While a supremely skilled transloading operation can mitigate this risk to an extent, the fact remains that the more time freight is touched, there’s an increased risk for damage.
Even in the face of this, though, you can do something to protect your freight. Purchasing additional insurance to go beyond the bare minimum required by law for the logistics company to carry is a wise move for many companies. Of course, it will require a supplementary use of funds since you’ll pay for it. However, this additional cost is more than worth it if you’re having freight with high monetary value moved.
There are two huge benefits to having your freight shipped using intermodal transportation. The first one is that the freight doesn’t leave the container until you want it to. What that means is the freight in the container will remain undisturbed and unpacked until it reaches your distribution center, warehouse, or the customer’s retail space. As pointed out above, this should over time reduce the amount of potential damage your commodities are exposed to.
The second advantage comes from the added flexibility that comes from being able to have a boat, truck and train interchangeably haul your freight. When a crane can pluck your intermodal container off of a boat and put it directly onto a train, that’s an ideal scenario for your goods to keep moving. In this case, intermodal shipping containers really wouldn’t go on a plane, so that’s not a viable option.
Intermodal transportation relies heavily on being efficient or freight cost savings can’t be realized. Inefficiencies in the process can actually result in higher transportation costs than if a single mode of transport was used.
Also, if you want the absolute fastest type of shipping, neither transloading nor intermodal will fit that bill. While both can be used to great effect to get your freight where it needs to go, there is going to be added time when those containers are forced to stop and then be unloaded and loaded.
No matter your decision when it comes to transloading vs. intermodal, R+L Global Logistics is the company you want handling your freight — no matter how fragile or valuable it is. We know exactly how to best tackle the unique challenges presented by both of these methods of transportation and will give you the most cost-effective way to do so.
R+L Global Logistics has a presence at all U.S. ports to aid you in receiving your freight and routing it to where you need it to go. Furthermore, we have the employees, facilities, equipment and knowledge to expertly complete transload and intermodal shipping on your behalf. In addition, should you need to have your commodities stored for any length of time, our strategically placed warehouses around the U.S. can offer assistance in that area.
So no matter what side you end up choosing in transloading vs. intermodal, make sure your next freight load is in the hands of R+L Global Logistics — we’ll make sure to take care of it. For a free quote for our freight, warehouse and fulfillment services, call us today at (866) 989-3082.
When comparing transloading vs cross docking, it can be difficult to know which process offers the best services to suit your needs. Both transloading and cross docking provide services aimed at increasing efficiency and reducing costs along the supply chain, but each does so in different ways.
Transloading is the process of preparing, storing and transferring shipments between different modes of transportation using specialized facilities. Cross docking is the process of redirecting shipments and efficiently transferring cargo from inbound trucks to outbound trucks with minimal storage in between.
Each process is tailored to a particular type of shipment and comes with its own distinct advantages. Keep reading to learn whether transloading or cross docking offers the right services for you.
Transload services transfer inbound goods from one form of transportation to another for outbound delivery, with some processing in between. The transport vehicles that are used vary, but are always some combination of truck, rail, ship or cargo plane.
Transloading is most commonly used in two situations. One, when one form of transportation isn’t capable of getting the goods to their destination (i.e. international and overseas shipments). The other is when it would be cheaper or more efficient to move the goods via multiple modes of transport (i.e. combining rail and truck for cross-country shipment, rather than using a truck for the entire delivery).
Transloading facilities typically include some form of warehousing or storage option as well. Once goods come in through a port or railyard, they’re often transported to either an on-site distribution warehouse or to a transload facility nearby for storage and outbound delivery.
The consolidated cargo typically arrives at the transload facility in shipping containers and must be unloaded and processed before it’s ready for the next step of the journey. After unloading, the goods are sorted, palletized and shrink-wrapped before either being put into storage until needed, or transferred onto another mode of outbound transportation for delivery. This is often referred to as container transloading.
For even more information about transloading, check out our article The Complete Guide to Transloading.
The transloading process comes with a number of distinct advantages for shippers needing to transport their goods through intermodal means. From providing companies storage throughout the shipping process, to reducing transport costs, eliminating barriers to delivery, and reducing port congestion, transloading is an excellent way to improve the process along the supply chain.
Cargo shipped to a transload facility may not always be ready for delivery immediately upon arrival. Sometimes the goods require storage until they’re needed. This is especially true for international shipments that are stored stateside. Retailers are able to keep the goods in storage and ship them as needed, rather than having to wait for an overseas resupply for each shipment. This allows retailers to better manage their demand and order fulfillment.
Many transloading facilities have the on-site capability to not only store the cargo that comes in, but to break down, sort and palletize the shipments for storage and delivery. Additionally, some facilities offer value-added services like weighing and customs management. This helps speed up the delivery process by providing these services on-site, rather than having to ship the goods to a separate distribution facility.
Simply put, there are many shipments that would either be impossible or far more costly and less efficient if not for the ability to use multiple modes of transportation. In many cases, overseas shipments wouldn’t be possible. Domestic shipments would also require more time and money if a truck was the only way to move goods across the country. Transloading gives shippers the capability to combine multiple forms of transportation to best complete the job.
Companies are able to save on transport costs by consolidating cargo that requires multiple shipping containers into one trailer. Rather than having to send multiple smaller shipments, goods can be consolidated into one trailer at the transloading facility for a more streamlined delivery process.
Some shipments that come into the U.S. from abroad aren’t able to clear customs in port and must be transported to the end-user in-bond. Transload shipments are able to clear customs at their port of entry, speeding up the delivery process and reducing costs.
Cross docking is the process of unloading goods from an inbound vehicle, moving them into a holding area or distribution dock, and then transferring them onto an outbound vehicle for delivery to its final destination.
Unlike transloading, cross docking involves little to no long-term storage and doesn’t require any unpacking or re-palletization. Instead, cross docking facilities rely on quick turnaround times to redirect goods for an efficient outbound delivery.
Due to the quick turnaround time and the number of parties involved, cross docking requires clear and constant communication between the carrier, shipper and third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Without clear communication between these parties, cross docking is unlikely to be successful.
From an efficiency and cost-savings standpoint, it’s difficult to find a better solution to transferring goods along your route than cross docking. Due to the process and the design of the facilities, cross docking can save you time and money, streamline the transportation process, and eliminate the need for storage altogether.
The purpose of cross docking is to create a more cost and time-efficient supply chain. Once goods arrive at a cross docking facility, they are unloaded and then either immediately loaded back onto an outbound vehicle for delivery, or set aside in a designated holding area until they can be moved - typically within the same day.
Unlike transloading, cross dock services involve goods that are already palletized and do not require any further unpacking or re-palletization. Instead, they are sorted onto the proper truck with a number of other shipments for delivery to the end-user, such as the retailer or customer. Because of its quick turnaround time, cross docking is also a good option for time-sensitive or perishable items.
Items shipped to a cross docking facility do not require long-term storage, which eliminates the need for expensive storage facilities and warehouse space. Goods that come into a cross docking facility are never kept for more than a day and instead are set aside in a staging area until they are ready to be moved onto an outbound vehicle.
Unlike transloading, which often requires cargo to be unpacked, palletized and stored, cross docking simply involves unloading, sorting and transferring goods from one truck to another. As a result, labor costs are reduced.
Cross docking facilities act as a junction for inbound and outbound cargo, allowing for the redirection of goods and the consolidation of shipments. Typically, it’s more efficient for a full truckload of cargo destined for multiple destinations to come into a central docking station where it can be split into multiple less than truckload (LTL) shipments. Those LTL shipments are then consolidated with other LTL shipments and sent out to each of their respective destinations.
The less that goods are required to be handled and stored, the fewer opportunities there are for those goods to be stolen or damaged. By quickly processing cargo and limiting storage time, cross docking reduces the risks of theft and damage.
Transloading is used for intermodal transportation and for when you need to process and/or store goods before they can be properly transferred. International, overseas and cross-country shipments are best suited to take advantage of transload services.
Cross docking is used to redirect goods quickly and efficiently, without the need for storage or processing. Cross docking is best suited for cargo that requires a junction for multiple shipments and for shipments that require faster delivery - including time-sensitive and perishable goods.
Both transloading and cross docking offer services with the aim of reducing costs and increasing supply chain efficiency. Depending on the shipment, it may require both services to be used at different points along the supply chain. It all depends on how the goods are shipped, the origin and destination of the shipment, and the speed at which the shipment must be delivered.
Now that you know the difference between transloading and cross docking, let R+L Global Logistics provide the right service for you. No matter how you need to ship, process, or store your inbound and outbound freight, we can provide the transload, cross dock and warehousing services you need.
In addition to transloading and cross docking services, we provide a full range of supply chain and fulfillment services. This includes:
Have questions or are ready to discuss your supply chain needs? Contact our team today. Our supply chain experts are available to answer your questions, provide you with a hassle-free quote, and work with you to create an optimal supply chain and distribution strategy.
With the complexities of freight shipping in normal times, businesses are always looking for solutions to get their goods transported faster, more efficiently and at a reasonable rate. During trying times, those same companies need more creative methods to get the same job done. That’s why more and more freight customers are looking toward transloading to help complete this crucial part of the supply chain. But for those who are in the dark, they might ask what transloading is and how it can actually make a positive difference?
Transloading is the process of unloading freight from one mode of transportation to another as a shipment moves through the supply chain. This is often a required step in the shipping process. However, transloading can also be used to reduce storage costs, speed up delivery times, and more.
Our comprehensive and thorough guide below outlines everything there is to know about transloading. In addition to the information provided, we also have logistics and supply chain experts available. They can answer all of your transloading questions and help you identify the next steps that you need to take.
Transloading occurs when a shipment must be moved from one method of transportation to another in order to complete the journey. Specifically, the products themselves are moved, not an entire shipping container. An example of how this happens is when a shipping container begins as a railroad car but can’t make the entire trip via that mode of transport. It would then be offloaded from the shipping container onto a truck to make it to its final destination.
In reality, though, this can be the movement of any transport to another. Such as a plane landing at the airport and the freight being transloaded onto trucks to complete the last leg of the journey. Another scenario could see a shipment from a cargo ship being loaded onto a train, which is then offloaded onto a truck. This might not seem ideal but depending on where the freight needs to end up, it’s often the most efficient and timely solution. Here is an example:
At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive to have to move the freight around an extra time but it wouldn’t be done unless it was truly the best option. There are four main modes of transportation and only one of them — trucks — can generally arrive directly at the destination for unloading. So it makes sense for the trucks to go where the trains, planes, or boats are, pick up the freight and make the rest of the trip.
The days of just throwing freight onto one vehicle and making 100 percent of the trip by itself is all but over. Not that it can’t happen, especially for shorter, domestic trips. But any imported goods not from Mexico or Canada are going to come to America mostly via ocean or air. Once the freight gets here, it turns into transload freight immediately once it’s offloaded and then put onto a different mode of transportation.
Transloading is also sometimes referred to as cross-docking when it takes place in a warehouse setting. However, this isn’t the same as transshipping freight (which will be explained in greater detail later). Transloading can even happen from truck to truck, ship to ship and rail to rail. There are no limitations on how freight is transloaded. The overall aim should just be that it limits cost and is done so with no extra or wasted effort.
Transloading in logistics is the act of offloading freight from one method of transportation and then loading it onto another so that the cargo can make its complete journey. This can happen because it is either needed or it simply makes the freight hauling more convenient. As the world has opened up to a truly global economy, transloading has become a common practice in the supply chain journey.
In nearly every case of transloading, the final part of the transportation will take place via truck. The reason for this is, of the four main types of transport — rail, boat, plane and truck — only the truck can access nearly any place. The other three will almost always need to rely on at least a second mode of transportation to make a complete delivery possible.
Transloading has many benefits as a key cog in the supply chain and that’s enough reason that it should be considered for your freight hauling needs. In fact, some of the positive points of the process are helping alleviate some of the bigger pain points in freight shipping today.
John Kilbride, the Director of Fulfillment and Distribution for R+L Global Logistics, said that it can be a big help in one particular area.
“The logistics industry has been under pressure from a number of directions,” Kilbride said. “One area that has hit many of our customers hard is the difficulty of getting their product out of the ports. Often, they are faced with delays due to a lack of available equipment and no place to put their product. To help our customers, we are offering our services for transload and cross-docking.”
Besides just trying to find a way around shipping delays, here are some real-life points to using transload for your freight:
One of the first things that using transloading does for the supply chain is to improve its flexibility. This occurs by giving a business more options during the course of shipping and also the ability to successfully pivot should one mode of transportation not be enough. It is also helpful if issues occur as well.
Transloading can also be used in conjunction with cross docking to give retailers additional options when trying to traverse the sometimes difficult world of freight shipping. With the current climate making business shipping even more complex, companies that can simplify that process are the ones that will be best set up to win in the retail space.
Since transloading can act as a makeshift distribution center of sorts, this is an option that can allow a company to scale its operations upward at any point where it feels the timing is right. Improving the supply chain flexibility and bandwidth gives you more easily reachable destinations for your products and increases the amount of shipment capacity and choices.
It might be challenging to find enough trucks to make long-haul trips at the moment. But — by using a train or boat for part of the trip and getting the merchandise to a transloading facility where a truck or trucks for your shipment will be waiting to be loaded up — it should allow your business to increase the size of its shipments in the fact of rising demand.
Maybe you’re shipping a single container or truckload to multiple different parts of the country. This is where transloading can really shine as a viable alternative. You can have items destined for several different places in the same shipment and — once it reaches a transload facility — it can then be transloaded onto different trucks at the terminal. Each truck will then deliver the shipments to their separate final destination.
The consolidation of shipments on the front end can help you avoid needing multiple containers and/or spots on a boat, rail, plane or truck. In the long run, this can save you both space and money. It can also open up more possibilities for moving freight in a tough climate.
The entire point of transloading exists to increase efficiencies in the freight shipping industry. If the process itself is more efficient, that can manifest itself in the form of a shorter time for freight to travel from point A to point B.
The thought is that instead of freight sitting around, it can be almost always on the move. The hour or two it might take to unload one vehicle onto another might still pale in comparison to the days-long delays that could be encountered looking for one transport mode that can make most of or the entire trip. Transloading keeps your shipping agile amid the various hurdles of modern-day supply chain hiccups.
True, there is a transload fee to be found. However, this can still be more cost-effective than waiting through delays or finding a cost-effective way to ship the freight without using transloading. Besides general efficiencies, one of the biggest reasons to engage in transload shipping is the idea that it will save a business money.
Especially for domestic shipping in the U.S., truck and rail are going to be much cheaper than air and are a great pair to use in carrying out transloading. Rail itself is less expensive than truck over long distances, not to mention being more environmentally conscious. Having the bulk of a shipment be transported via rail and then finished off with a truck is often an effective solution.
This is not for every case but the list of modes of transport from least to most expensive would generally be:
If you’re not quite as interested in the order fulfillment aspect of storing and then distributing your goods at a later time, transloading can help eliminate that need in some cases. Instead of your freight having to go to a distribution center or warehouse to await the next process of moving, transloading keeps your products moving. In many cases, this can significantly cut down on costly warehouse fees.
If you require or do want warehousing, that’s also fine and you can easily get help in that arena from a trusted 3PL provider. But once again, having the ability to engage in transloading gives you an option to make better decisions based on the unique situations each freight load could encounter. So if you don’t want your freight sitting in a warehouse, consider transload.
The actual transloading process follows a general path that is flexible to help suit the needs of your freight. The basic principle involves one vehicle being 100 percent unloaded, or a shipping container on said vehicle. The freight that comes off the first vehicle then is carefully loaded onto another vehicle. It can be a different type of vehicle or even the same kind — it’s still all transloading.
For it to be considered transloading and not a different kind of shipping, it cannot stay in the original shipping container, if that’s what it was originally transported in. For light freight, a simple conveyor belt might be deployed to easily and safely move freight between. However, for heavier or palletized freight, machinery such as forklifts and cranes is often used to smoothly and effortlessly transition the commodities.
There are a variety of transloading examples that can be pointed to but since some of those have already been fleshed out, here’s a less common way transloading is used to make global logistics work.
There are times when a large ocean freighter might be too large for a specific port that is geographically preferable to enter. A way to circumvent this limitation is to have a smaller boat go out to deep enough waters to meet the bigger sea vessel and take on the freight via transloading to get it into port. This also might be an opportunity for the cargo to almost immediately be transloaded again once it reaches land and then is moved from the boat now carrying it onto trucks or rail.
But to reiterate what transloading is, it’s any time that freight is completely taken off an initial method of transportation and put into another vehicle. As long as it is not an entire container that’s moved from one location to another without being first unloaded — that’s transshipment, which will be further detailed in an ensuing section — you will have an example of transloading.
Another example is when your goods are on a train but unable to complete the full shipment delivery because it’s reached a break-of-gauge point, which means the size of the tracks are different. While this can be fixed in real-time, it can be time-consuming and also requires specialized equipment or accommodations to get the train over the difference in track. In some cases, it’s advantageous to pull a second train in proximity to the first one and transload the entire freight load — especially if a bogie exchange or variable gauge is unavailable.
A transloader’s sole purpose is to exist on a team of workers located at a transloading facility in order to perform the function of transloading. However, at a transloading facility, there are a variety of different roles. There are different classifications of jobs a transloader can fill and each one plays a huge part in the positive outcomes.
This person makes sure the entire facility is operating at high capacity with an eye toward preventing both workplace injury and damage to the freight. Any issues at the facility end up on this person’s desk. Some tasks that the transload facility manager is responsible for include:
This is a job that forces the person to wear many hats, manage many employees, and also must be ultra-organized in order to be successful in the role.
This is a blue-collar profession that really requires physically robust people who will be able to constantly lift and move freight all day long while being on their feet.
But it’s not all about being brawny in this job. Every transload operator has to have the intelligence to understand the rules regarding transloading. This includes moving all types of different freight and the standard operating procedures of the transloading facilities being worked at. Many transload operators are asked to travel to different terminals for work, so that should also be a consideration for anyone interested.
Also, a transload operator can refer to those who operate the heavy machinery that is either preferred or mandated. Therefore, many transload operators are licensed to perform those tasks on certain pieces of equipment, which all have their own requirements
Since much of the actual transloading takes place with trains entering the facility and then being unloaded onto trucks before moving along again, a specific person is needed to orchestrate all of that movement. So a freight conductor’s role is to coordinate the crews on each train and get the various cars in position — safely and efficiently — to be properly positioned for loading and unloading.
This is a specially trained position that requires months of training, both in a classroom setting and on the job before it can be worked independently. But it’s of high importance to any transloading facility for the aforementioned reasons.
While the included word warehouse might be a bit confusing, this would be someone who’d possibly operate a forklift while also helping to verify shipment quantities and overall accuracy. This can be a general job with many responsibilities (including keeping the transload facility clean) but organized, hard-working, fast-paced people who can also work safely are prized for this position.
This type of worker can run a pallet jack, forklift or other machinery as well inside a distribution center or warehouse.
Depending on the commodities involved, there are many different types of equipment that can be used to complete the transloading process. It is all either necessary to most effectively do perform this work, or just makes it easier on the hard-working employees charged with the task of completing it.
If you’ve ever been inside a warehouse or distribution center, you’ll be familiar with these. Either manual or motorized, these conveyor belts are instrumental in being able to quickly move boxes from, let’s say, a rail car into the back of an 18-wheeler.
They are essential since they can be set up between both points of the transload and make it so that potentially heavy goods don’t have to be lugged across long distances. These can be simple metal conveyors with wheels on the bottom that can be moved into place or ones with mechanized belts to effortlessly send boxes along their merry way.
Regardless of which type of conveyor is utilized, they’re handy tools in the transload field and you’ll find them inside warehouses, distribution centers and (yes) transloading facilities.
Forklifts are more likely to be used when the transloading takes place in a distribution center or warehouse scenario. However, they can also be used at transload facilities as long as there is solid, mostly even ground on which to work.
These machines, which need a dedicated transload worker to operate, can easily move pallets filled with freight. They can also be used to move oversized items across their forks. Regardless of what’s being transported on the forklift, it must be done safely. Forklift safety guidelines are set by the machinery’s manufacturer specifications and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Forklifts are invaluable because they can move freight quickly even to an 18-wheeler 100 yards away and also allow a sizable amount of weight to be shifted in a single trip. Like with most vehicles or heavy equipment, those who drive a forklift must be properly licensed and have undergone extensive safety training.
Cranes can be used for transloading (and its cousin transshipment) because of their ability to pick up entire shipping containers and move them wherever desired. Cranes are used regularly at ports of entry, as it’s the best and most simple method of unloading shipping containers to the ground.
Smaller container cranes than those found at ports can be used in a variety of ways. One situation could find a container crane sidle up to a train, move the container closer to another train or truck to be unloaded. The empty container then gets moved back to its original place or to a different location at the transloading station to be filled once again. They are also handy in scenarios where break-of-gauge is in place as a way to circumvent that roadblock.
These are used for items such as chemicals, fuels, liquids and food products such as grain or dairy. The two pumps used in the transloading process are sliding vane pumps and reciprocating gas compressors.
A sliding vane pump is so named because it uses a rotor to pull the liquid behind each of the sliding vanes and into a pumping chamber. Once this rotor turns, the liquid is moved to the other side where a pumping chamber squeezes down and dispels the commodity out the other side. This works great if you’re trying to transfer a liquid from a tanker on a train to a tanker truck, or vice versa.
A reciprocating gas compressor doesn’t work exactly the same but the effect in moving gas from one place to another is the same idea. The gas enters one end, then is put under high pressure through compression to move it into the second container.
It’s worth asking what type of commodities benefit from using pumps as a means of movement. Examples include:
A transload container is a shipping container, usually packed and then loaded onto a boat, a train or — in less common cases — a flatbed truck. The container itself helps the freight travel part of the trip until the actual transloading begins. Once that happens, the container is then emptied either into another shipping container or into the back of a freight truck.
Most containers used in container transloading start their journey internationally and are known as ocean shipping containers. There are many different sizes but three, in particular, are the most popular:
Based on your needs, you might end up with any of these, although you’re usually welcome to specify what your preference is. The 20- and 40-foot standard shipping containers have the same height (7 feet, 10 inches) and width (7 feet, 8.5 inches) but the 40-foot container is twice as long.
A high cube container gives the interior of the shipping box extra height (by 11 inches) to 8 feet, 9 inches. While the 40-foot high cube container is more popular, this kind also comes in a 20-foot length as well.
On the other hand, an intermodal container has slightly different dimensions — 8.5 feet tall and 8 feet wide — which lends it more to traversing the world on multiple modes of transport that it was designed exactly to do.
A transloading facility is a staged area — it could be out in the open or even in a warehouse-type structure — where the swapping of freight from one mode of transportation to another happens. When the facilities are outdoors, the location is usually easily accessible by both trains and trucks, so it’s next to railroad tracks that are themselves not far from highways.
While railroads have a sizable spot in the logistics business, there are a lot of businesses, stores and even warehouses that simply don’t have tracks leading right to them. That’s why transloading facilities exist.
Transloading and the corresponding facilities can play a huge role in freight movement in the face of massive port congestion, something Kilbride was quick to point out.
“In a transload situation, we can bring their product to one of our locations – Ocala (Fla.), Atlanta or Los Angeles,” Kilbride said. “We can take their product out of the container and load it onto a truck or trucks for delivery. The services allow the customer to get their product out of the port, avoid high demurrage costs and late fees, which can run into the thousands (of dollars).”
Kilbride’s comment about his company’s locations is certainly an important point about transload facilities. Like many things with freight transportation, transloading can be greatly aided in efficiency with strategic spots in the United States.
While the proximity of Atlanta and Los Angeles to many people in their respective regions is inherently understood, Ocala deserves recognition as well. Ocala’s strategic location in North Central Florida can easily reach all of the state’s nearly 21.5 million residents (and customers) in a manner of hours.
A transloading facility has it all — or at least everything you’d ever need to have your transload taken care of. Any way you slice it, at a complete and efficient transloading facility, you won’t be left hanging when it comes time to move your freight.
Let’s look at exactly what a transloading facility should have and how these items are used to finish this process.
Surprisingly, transshipment actually has more in common with intermodal transportation than it does transloading. During both intermodal and transshipment, the shipping containers involved with the freight inside are what are moved. This means the freight inside is not unloaded until it reaches the end of the line.
Transshipment is different from both intermodal and transloading in that it refers specifically to the practice of moving a shipping container from one ship to another before it is then shipped to another spot. Both transloading and intermodal shipping can utilize all the different modes of moving freight to complete a single journey.
Transshipment can technically be a part of an intermodal or transload shipment, but again the phrase is used to denote the aforementioned movement between vessels that takes place before the means of transport transitions to that.
The act of transshipment can also occur either out at sea or in waterways that are either just outside or even inside the port of entry. This is also used to connect ports around the world that might not have direct access to one another. This limited access can be a result of many things including too much time or resources being needed to get to certain ports.
It can also be used if the desired port is congested or unavailable due to low tide. Transshipment is something to be done within the laws of U.S. Customs and Border Protection though. Some countries use the practice to try to avoid tariffs or trade restrictions, which America deems to be illegal.
Earlier, we talked about how palletized loads could be transloaded. While that still holds true, it’s also noteworthy that many ocean containers are actually loaded directly onto the floor of the structure without going onto pallets.
On these occasions, the loads are actually placed on a pallet at the transload facilities. Also, transloading can refer to multiple modes of transportation used while in cross docking. Usually, a truck shows up at a distribution center where it is unloaded. The unloaded freight is then moved across the center to an outbound truck that might have consolidated loads to go to a single retailer.
With cross docking, there’s a greater possibility that an already palletized portion of freight will be placed right onto a waiting truck. It can also be broken down and redistributed among several outbound trucks or placed inside the distribution center to wait a certain time for this to happen.
In contrast, transloading is more about freight that is on the move from its start to finish. This doesn’t mean the freight could never be stored. The main goal of transloading is to move the goods from one transport to another with the immediate target of it reaching its resale destination.
Transloading, because of the ships and trains that make up part of its mechanisms, takes place mostly outdoors and is therefore much more open to the elements. Cross docking does require trucks to encounter the same weather both entering and leaving the warehouse, but cross docking takes place in a distribution center that is shielded from inclement weather while the freight is being moved between vehicles.
Still, according to Kilbride, cross docking can be worth looking into in cases where it might be preferable to transload.
“In a cross dock arrangement we can take (our customers’) product out of the ports, unload the containers and store the product short-term — normally a few days or weeks at a daily charge — then load it on a truck or trucks when they have arranged a location for delivery,” he said.
Cross docking is another avenue that you can take when trying to navigate the supply chain. It’s important to analyze the differences between it and transloading and make the determination on which will be right based on your exact needs, or availability, at the time.
After having just covered what cross docking is and how it takes place at a distribution center or warehouse, let’s zero in on what the actual cross docking terminal itself is. We’ll also examine its role in being able to make cross docking a success.
The docking terminals in question are elevated openings referred to as dock doors in the sides of the structure that allow trucks to back into and be easily unloaded. They have roll-down doors or shutters to close the openings when they are not in use. The reason dock doors are elevated is so the bottom of the truck’s back is lined up with the floor for easy loading and unloading. Sometimes the fit isn’t perfect, so ramps are used to bridge the gap between the truck and the entrance to the distribution center.
The trucks are unloaded on the inbound side of the center, which is generally clearly marked. Once in the warehouse, the goods — which are often palletized — are sorted in a distinct way so that they end up on the corresponding truck on the outbound side of the facility. This can be as straightforward as rolling a pallet across the way on a pallet jack or forklift and going right onto an outbound truck. In other cases, iit can necessitate the pallet being broken down and resorted so that it can go onto different trucks.
On the outbound side, there are empty trucks waiting to be loaded. Even when trucks are being waited on, sometimes the freight is already placed on the outbound side so that it can be quickly and correctly loaded once the vehicle arrives.
Different logistics such as transloading, cross docking and break bulk share some similarities. To the naked eye, in fact, it might be difficult to find the defining characteristics of each that truly separate each one from the other.
However, when drilling down a little deeper, there are contrasts that justify naming them as different types of shipping. This holds true with cross docking and break bulk. Let’s quickly list some of the similarities before diving into why they’re not the same.
Both take place in a warehouse setting and are usually the product of an inbound truck arriving, the freight being unloaded and then reloaded onto an outbound truck for its final delivery. That’s where the two could be confused for one another.
However, it’s what occurs while in the warehouse that outlines the divergence between cross docking and break bulk. Cross docking is usually the process of taking palletized freight and moving it across the distribution center to another truck to complete the rest of its journey. Sometimes, the pallets can be further broken down to put boxed or packaged items onto multiple trucks.
In the case of break bulk, it takes that concept even further. That same pallet or boxed goods actually are completely broken down so that a customer or retailer can receive a smaller quantity to their exact specifications.
Another reason break bulk exists is in some cases where the commodity in question needs to be packaged differently before the customer receives it. It may also be that the items are parts of something that require assembly once they reach the customer. An example of the latter would be car parts that must be shipped so they can be added to a vehicle for an end product.
Looking at the way cross docking works, the paths of both are the same until the fork in the road appears. In short, many break bulk shipments are really cross docking at the start, with a part of the freight broken off to be put on a separate truck from the cross-docked materials.
Intermodal shipping simply means that two or more methods of transportation were used in order to complete a single shipment. This might make it sounds exactly like transloading but a little further down, it will be explained why they are not exactly the same.
This type of shipping utilizes specialized containers called intermodal containers so that a shipment of goods can easily be transferred between trains, trucks and cargo ships in a seamless manner. In today’s climate, it’s becoming rarer that a single shipment of goods will be completed through just one transportation mode. In fact, with the current truck driver shortage, instances of intermodal shipping are on the rise.
In relation to transloading, the main difference is the loading and unloading. In transloading, the goods themselves are taken out of one vehicle or container and moved to another one so the original shipping container doesn’t continue to hold the freight. In intermodal shipping, the entire shipping container is moved, so the freight itself is never unpacked until it reaches a distribution center or its final destination.
Like transloading, intermodal shipping is another option to help goods move through the supply chain. It can be utilized to great effect, as can transloading, and is another option to ponder whenever you need freight moved.
Drayage is a term reserved for logistics and the supply chain and refers to a short trip for freight, usually in the same area as the port it enters through. Drayage shipments are meant to be freight hauling over small distances and are used almost as a connector inside the supply chain.
An example of this would be if shipping containers arrived in the port of Jacksonville or Tampa (both in Florida) and then were transferred to a truck either still in the container or via transloading. This freight would then be taken to a distribution center in Ocala to be sorted out or even cross docked before it’s ready to be dispersed to its final location for sale.
Drayage might cost an additional fee, or be included in the quoted price for a complete movement of freight. It is never a standalone service, though, since its sole purpose is to act as the “first mile” of the overall journey. But drayage doesn’t always have to be just a short jaunt from a port. It can originate at the port, but may need to go to a yard or warehouse before its leg of the move is over.
Drayage isn’t just an option, but a necessity in some regards. This is because it often begins the flow of commodities into America and assists in alleviating congestion at the point of entry. Also, drayage can end up being cheaper because the freight is on the move rather than sitting at a port and being charged demurrage fees — which are charged to the importer when their freight on a ship is not unloaded in the agreed-upon time.
So the ability to use drayage can be both a time- and money-saving choice that is yet another available alternative to keep your freight moving toward where it’s needed.
By its most general definition, transloading is a form of intermodal shipping because it also uses two or more modes of transport. So at a basic level, yes, transload shipping is the same as intermodal shipping. However, there is one major differentiator between the two that does make them slightly dissimilar. That is the way the freight is transferred in between transportation vehicles.
Intermodal: With this kind of shipment, the cargo is in shipping containers that they stay in for the duration of the journey. So while the shipping containers can freely be moved between trucks, planes and trains, it is not offloaded from the containers until the end of the trip.
Transloading: On the other hand, as previously mentioned, transloading also employs multiple transportation methods. However, it doesn’t stay in the same shipping container the entire journey. In fact, whether it’s through muscle or machine, a train car (for instance) is fully unloaded and then re-loaded into the back of an 18-wheeler or onto the flatbed of a truck.
To a certain degree, these two kinds of transportation can work in tandem.
This is a popular method of transloading because it combines the economical savings of using rail — especially over long distances — with the directness of a truck to drive your products right to the door of retailers. To illustrate how this would work, let’s use a specific instance.
Let’s say that your commodities enter the Port of Los Angeles and need to eventually get to Chicago. Regardless of the exact route, that’s a minimum 2,000-mile journey for the freight no matter the mode of transport chosen. If expedited shipping is not a requirement, then the most efficient way to get the goods shipped would be to have them loaded onto a train. There’s no exact place the train must be unloaded but to get it into Chicago. It can be transloaded from the rail closer to the point of delivery with the truck easily driving into downtown Chicago to the customer.
Everyone’s business needs are different but for a lot of shipments, this is a good example of how transloading works in a real-world setting when being planned out. The actual process of doing the transloading is the same as previously described. The rail takes the freight to a transloading facility where it is transferred from the rail car into the back of the 18-wheeler using manpower, machinery or both. Then the truck gets it the rest of the way there.
A major reason why transloading services are actually needed and not merely wanted is that they’re likely to be essential in making sure your freight can get from its starting point to its end destination.
No one would have come up with the idea of loading and unloading freight mid-journey unless there was a real, tangible advantage in doing so. In that case, the most basic modes of transportation — rail, boat, plane and truck — all have limitations.
Plane: Doesn’t need roads because it can fly anywhere, but planes can only land at airports or airfields, so you still need another form of transport to complete the rest of the delivery. Also, planes are always going to be the most expensive option.
Boats: This is often the cheapest and most logical option when getting goods from overseas. However, the downsides are that it’s the slowest way to move goods — if that matters to you — and it also is limited by relying on a rail or truck to actually deliver the commodities once they reach port.
Rail: Especially for longer journeys, rail is usually the most environmentally friendly and cost-efficient option. For shorter trips, though, trucks can rival it on cost and rail still needs a truck to connect the entire freight hauling since very few businesses and warehouses have train tracks leading right to them.
Trucks: Not always the cheapest option and cannot be used exclusively for any overseas merchandise., but also very hard to beat for ease of booking and also the level of convenience. Once your freight is on land, there isn’t anywhere that a truck cannot deliver it to.
So basically, what all of these modes of transportations have in common is that not one of them can be used every single time for 100 percent of the hauling of a load of freight. That is why services like transloading and some of the others mentioned have evolved how to navigate the supply chain. So plan accordingly!
No one knows the exact needs of your business other than you, but it’s true enough to directly say that transloading helps more and more businesses every day. With the supply chain being more globally oriented now than at any other time in history, goods often travel many thousands of miles on multiple types of transport before reaching the end of the line.
So to decide if transloading is right for your business, it might be fair to answer these questions:
If you can answer affirmatively to even one of these questions, then transloading is right for your business. If the answer to all is yes, then, even more, the reason to seriously consider transloading as a viable option.
Another small thing to ponder is how many boxes or containers need to be transloaded. In transloading, the more individual pieces of freight that must be moved at a transloading facility, the more it will cost the person or business having the commodities shipped.
After just talking about whether transloading is right for your business, let’s go over the benefits of this type of shipping. First and foremost, transloading will benefit you if you’re looking for a way to cut down on possible shipping delays. If your goods originate from overseas, transloading won’t help them clear customs any faster. However, once they have cleared through customs, the process of domestic shipping begins and transloading can help speed that up.
Furthermore, in certain scenarios, transloading can save you money over traditional long-haul trucking or railroads. This is by using several methods of transport to complete that single journey, or even by not having freight sit around incurring additional costs because it’s not moving and must now be stored somewhere.
Last, sometimes it is simply the best option from the perspective of the trip the freight must endure in order to reach the place it’s destined for in America. If freight has to go from Houston to Denver, transloading might be vastly superior to having the goods take a train the whole way, or putting it on a truck for the entire duration.
Transloading can easily reduce costs because you can use cheaper transportation (such as rail) for the majority of the trip. Once the railcar is unable to be used anymore, have the transload take place by moving your goods to a truck to complete the rest of the movement. The other way in which it can help reduce costs is by not having your commodities just sitting at a port or stored in a warehouse. Storage fees can add up quickly. Thankfully, transloading can alleviate these costly fees.
The less time your freight spends sitting around, the cheaper your freight transport should theoretically be. Earlier, drayage was talked about as a way to keep your freight on the move so demurrage costs were not incurred. That principle can be applied to why transload works as well to avoid excessive and unnecessary fees.
Another way to save money comes from the consolidation of freight during the transloading process. For instance, the content from three of the 40-foot ocean containers can fit inside a pair of the United States’ 53-foot containers. Using transloading, the products can be shifted into less containers, which should save a business some cash.
The easiest way to integrate transloading into your transportation plan is by partnering with a third-party logistics company to strategize if it makes logical and fiscal sense to do so. Unless your business has vast amounts of experience with logistics, you’ll need an expert to help plan the intricacies of putting together the tight windows needed to pull off a transload of maximum efficiency.
In many cases, you would not be the one dictating whether your freight will be transloaded. In fact, it will more than likely be offered as a suggestion once you tell the 3PL where the freight will originate from and where it must end up. At that point, the feasibility of transloading will come into focus.
As always, your goal should be to have your freight moved in the safest, most direct way with an eye on value. That doesn’t always mean going with the cheapest method of shipping but having an understanding of the best combination of the cost and the services included with that.
Transloading can certainly improve efficiencies overall when used to move freight but it is not a simple set-it-and-forget-it proposition. Like many of the aspects surrounding the supply chain, using it as a strategic tool will see it garner the best results.
Your third-party logistics provider should be just as interested as you are to conserve resources. This means figuring out the overall preferred route to getting freight offloaded from one place and loaded onto another to keep things moving to the final destination.
It can be used in conjunction with cross docking to be your go-to for order fulfillment services. Similarly, it can just be another option within the confines of transloading to get your freight exactly where it’s desired.
In America, the most common transloading that takes place is from rail transport to a truck. Therefore, there are many items that can be best served by using this method, however, it’s hard to pinpoint them all.
Still, to give you an idea of why transloading is used and also why it has its place in the supply chain, let’s look at a few types of freight that are particularly well-served by transload:
Steel beams are a great example of a commodity that greatly benefits from transloading. The metal product can be shipped in a rail car and then transloaded at a facility directly onto a flatbed of a commercial truck to finish its journey.
Building materials are a popular category for transloading since the need for them and their durable, heavy profile is more suited for truck and train travel.
Furthermore, almost any class of household goods are able to be transloaded. We’re talking about anything from clothing to electronics to even home furnishings.
Fuel, food, really anything can be best for the transloading process. The only limitations, in truth, are your imagination.
There are multiple major challenges when deciding to have your freight transloaded. But one does stand above the rest — the further risk of damage to your freight during the transloading process.
There’s really no getting around it either; the stark reality is that the more freight is handled, either by humans or machinery, the chances of it getting dropped, dinged, broken and rattled all go up. That’s not to say that if it is moved around, it will automatically be damaged, just that it increases the overall odds.
Another thing you’ll have to accommodate is how to make sure your freight gets to the transloading facility and also what the most convenient facility will be in relation to where the goods need to end up. As previously stated, places that offer transloading are often set up along railroad tracks or — if they’re not — are at least placed in open spaces within a short distance from major highways.
Depending on the 3PL company you partner with, this can present a challenge in itself. However, a 3PL with experience and intelligence in this arena should be able to chart the best course for your freight and not allow this to turn into a major challenge.
One way to guard yourself against the damage that may occur during transloading is by protecting the cargo by supplementing it with freight insurance, which will be covered in the next section. This is one of the biggest challenges you’ll encounter in regard to transload since it increases the number of times that freight is handled and — in turn — boosts its chances of being damaged.
Another way you can overcome the challenge of damage during this type of shipment is by making sure your freight is packaged as securely as time and cost allow for. However, it really might prove to be worth it to take a great interest in sturdy, comprehensive packaging if it will give your products a better chance of surviving shipping.
Pairing with an experienced 3PL provider is a giant relief in dealing with another current headache: the window in which everything needs to work perfectly for a successful transload. This takes careful planning, especially if you want to avoid inadvertent delays due to little more than poor planning.
There are some who feel like transloading might not be right for their business because it increases the amount of time that their shipment is handled and moved. Truthfully, when opting for this method of transport, that is a somewhat unavoidable aspect of it. However, you should not rule out using transloading just for this reason.
While there is no way to completely mitigate the risk of freight suffering from damage, you can absolutely protect yourself financially by making sure you purchase freight insurance. While the freight carrier is expected to provide a minimum amount of insurance coverage, it’s usually not anywhere in the realm of what would completely cover your freight if it were all lost to damage.
The bare minimum coverage also doesn’t insure against certain provisions protected by the Carmack Amendment. This law allows the carrier to provide proof they weren’t responsible for the damage and that one of the following instances occurred:
While some of these are more likely to happen than others, it really puts the onus on the shipper — you — to take the lead on making sure your cargo is not left vulnerable. In this case, all-risk coverage might be exactly what you require. This type of coverage directly insures your cargo and can cover up to the entire value of your freight. Obviously, the higher the value of your freight, the more expensive it will be upfront.
In summation, freight insurance can be invaluable in protecting you against the risks posed by transloading. Sure, it will add an additional expense, but in the event of an unforeseen occurrence, it could save your investment.
Picking the right transloading company might not seem like the most straightforward endeavor. However, there are a few things you can look for in any provider of these services to make the most informed decision.
You want a logistics company that has capable equipment to efficiently and properly get the task of transloading accomplished. With this equipment, transloading generally needs a specialized staging area in strategic locations. This includes train tracks or stations located not far from America’s interstates so that trucks can get off and on the road quickly to load up.
The 3PL in question that you’re looking for should be your partner in every sense of the word. You should go with a trusted company that has experience in transloading. A company that takes timeliness and customer service seriously and not just as buzzwords to throw out there.
Also the 3PL should be able to provide other services as well. There might be times when your cargo needs to be temporarily stored if it arrives at its transloading point and there’s not a truck available. Warehousing comes into play in this case, which you’ll want to be sure your partner can assist you with.
In many cases, finding a preferred partner for transloading isn’t a difficult proposition. However, there are a few different ways you can choose to go about this ultimately important decision.
Those in the business world who are well-connected can use an old-fashioned method to gather more information: ask a friend. People you trust will usually be best positioned to give you meaningful feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of a 3PL that they’ve personally interacted with. This can be invaluable in assisting in the decision-making process and keeping it from turning into a guessing game.
If that’s not helpful, you can go onto the internet. Nowadays, nearly any company in any industry has ratings online, either with a star or numeric system that also lists pros and cons with additional commentary. In this case, it is of paramount importance to make sure the reviews — to the best of your ability — appear to be legitimate if you are going to base such a crucial choice in part because of them.
You can also go the rudimentary route of contacting 3PL providers directly. This will not be similar to the other two routes already mentioned but it will give you a much better idea of the services they render, the costs associated and even timeframes. All of these factors play an important role in informing your decision.
The benefits of working with a 3PL partner are numerous and each of these strong points individually can positively impact your ability to get freight moved, whether it’s through transloading or other means.
The general answer comes first — working with a 3PL partner gives you access to help across the entire supply chain. They can either completely take tasks off your plate and do them for you, for a fee. Anything you want to do yourself or feel like you just need to be advised on, a well-rounded 3PL can also offer you that assistance. Let’s take a closer look at the individual benefits of employing this type of partner.
Third-party logistics will make sure your freight is able to be moved, first and foremost. Many have the four major forms of transport — truck, train, boat, plane — on offer. In these cases, 3PLs either own the assets themselves or form strategic partnerships directly with the operators and work with them to book loads.
Neither is necessarily better than the other, but they’re two different ways that a 3PL will make sure they’ve got capacity to have your order able to be moved. Furthering the viability of partnering with a 3PL, the company should also be able to give you sound advice on what the best mode of transportation is for your individual scenario.
This includes the oft-mentioned transloading, which is absolutely a specialized form of transportation that needs to be done just right to avoid massive damage done to its freight. But it also encompasses modes such as:
So no matter how you want or need your freight moved, your 3PL should provide the benefit of giving you lots of options to accomplish this.
As a fast-paced business, there might be times when you deem it a good idea to have your goods stored either short- or long-term based on your unique needs. Well, a 3PL can certainly help with that. Whether it’s a few months in the lead-up to the holiday season or as part of a years-long plan, they’ve likely got you covered. Just as likely, the provider will have warehouses in desirable locations across the United States to allow storage and transportation hubs.
While your freight resides in the warehouse, it will be protected and eligible for additional services such as order fulfillment, pick and pack, kitting and even reverse logistics (aka product returns). Without utilizing a warehouse in some regard, you won’t have access to any of these services, should you ever find yourself needing them.
This is a form of transload where a truck reaches a distribution center, is unloaded and usually moved to the other side of a giant warehouse where it leaves on a different, outbound truck to continue the rest of the journey. Sometimes this type of freight movement is necessary to actually get freight moved all the way through the supply chain.
Like some of the other benefits, this might not be something at the start that you feel like you inherently need. However, having the option can end up being an integral part of facilitating the movement of your freight or just helping maintain flexibility should it be an attractive alternative.
When you start your business, you might know from the start that you’re unable or simply don’t want to have to execute certain steps in the supply chain process. This includes clearing, shipping, storing, or distributing your freight. Whether it’s abundantly clear immediately or at a later point, arrangements still must be made to have those steps covered.
A 3PL company can help with all kinds of things: clearing customs, filling out the appropriate paperwork completely and accurately, knowing the rules and regulations for importing any commodity, and more. Those aspects can all be a part of your overall strategy both domestically and internationally.
Even if you don’t automatically need to lean on your 3PL for any or all of these sorts of things, it’s certainly nice to know you have it available at any point along the road.
Sometimes shipping is a very straightforward proposition — you call up, tell your 3PL you need a truckload from Seattle to Chicago, get a price quote and that’s it. But what if you plan on regularly shipping or setting up an order fulfillment agreement? Then you’ll need a strategic partnership with an outfit that knows exactly what it’s doing.
A strategic logistics partner can fully provide crucial help and services to ensure that your shipping, fulfillment, distribution and transloading needs are taken care of 100 percent. This is used so that there’s no doubt that any of your goods are shipped and fulfilled in the exact way you envision.
This includes really any regard in which you need this to take place. If it is transloading, great. If a traditional trip in a freight hauler, no matter the distance or method, is called for, your strategic logistics partner can do that for you too. The strategy in question doesn’t even need to be long-term, it just reflects any period of time where you need a clearly defined plan for your supply chain requirements.
Now that you’ve received the complete guide to make transloading a simple process, allow it to become even easier by letting Fulfillment and Distribution powered by R+L Global Logistics handle all of your transload needs. With us at the helm, your freight will be expertly shipped from the start to finish with great care.
Fulfillment and Distribution, powered by R+L Global Logistics, has all the equipment and strategic locations required to make this a seamless transfer of your precious cargo. With the skilled, knowledgeable workers carrying out this task, your freight is at little risk. We also have access to any mode of transport you require, from trucks and trains to boats and planes. You won’t be limited from a freight hauling standpoint.
But that’s not all Fulfillment and Distribution has that can supercharge your business. We offer warehousing space to store your products should the need arise, along with other services revolving around the warehouse including:
So when you’re ready to employ transloading in your freight handling needs, reach out to R+L Global Logistics to find out exactly how we can boost your business while utilizing it. For a free quote with no obligation, call us today at (866) 989-3082 to learn more.
If you’re starting to find that you no longer have space for your merchandise, or the staff to manage it all, it probably means that your business is growing. And that’s a good thing! Unfortunately, it might also mean that you’re outgrowing your current needs. If you’re in need of a quick solution, one option that may be able to help solve your problems is contract warehousing.
Outgrowing your current situation is a good problem to have, but it’s also one that needs to be addressed. Contract warehousing can be custom-tailored to meet your exact needs, including increasing warehouse space, outsourcing logistics, and order fulfillment. Businesses are also likely to experience improved reliability, efficiency and cost-savings.
Our complete guide below provides you with everything you need to know about contract warehousing.
Simply put, a contract warehouse is a facility run by a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that can be contracted to handle warehousing operations like storage, shipping and receiving on a company’s behalf.
Contract warehousing, sometimes referred to as dedicated warehousing, is generally used when a company either doesn’t have a storage facility available to properly manage its cargo flow or wants to outsource order fulfillment. In addition to storage, contract warehouses specialize in distribution and inventory management to offer a variety of value-added services including packing, shipping, receiving and transport.
In the case of dedicated warehousing, an entire warehouse and all of its resources are devoted to a single client. Multi-client, or shared warehousing, can also exist on a contract basis and include value-added services, however, that’s typically not what’s being referred to by the term contract warehousing.
There are three primary warehousing options that companies consider when in need of storage space. Arguments can be made for and against each, but typically the choice will come down to a few factors. Factors include how long the space will be needed, the capital a company is willing to invest, and what services the client requires.
Private warehouses are typically owned and operated by one company. The primary purpose of this type of warehouse is to store goods in a central location and provide easy access to storage and distribution.
While more convenient and better for long-term storage, private warehouses require a large investment of capital. This applies to both the purchase or construction of the warehouse and in the equipment and staff needed to maintain it. Additionally, a high degree of daily involvement is needed to ensure they’re running properly.
Private warehouses are best suited for addressing long-term storage needs and for companies that want complete control of how their merchandise is managed and distributed. While there are no rental fees, it can take decades to see a return on investment as a result of the initial costs associated with private warehousing.
Public warehouses are run by third-party entities and rented out almost exclusively as storage space.
The price can vary depending on the amount of storage space required (typically measured in square feet), the amount of time the storage is needed, and the number of inbound and outbound transactions that a company makes.
While rental agreements can usually be made for any amount of time, public warehousing is best suited for companies looking for either short-term or seasonal storage. It’s worth noting that public warehouses don’t typically offer any additional services, and oftentimes store goods for multiple clients under the same roof.
Unlike private or public warehouses, contract warehouses offer a variety of value-added services and can be tailor-made to fit a client’s specific supply chain goals.
Some of the specialized services offered include packing, kitting, transport and inventory management, in addition to dedicated storage of all merchandise. By outsourcing these services to a 3PL provider, companies can focus their time and money on other areas of their business.
The typical length of a contract runs between two and five years, and the pay structure can usually be negotiated at either a fixed rate, costs-plus, or a combination of the two. Contract warehousing will almost always be more expensive than renting, but depending on your needs, it can be well worth it to gain access to additional services and avoid high initial investment costs.
Contract warehousing may sound like a great option in theory, but is it the best choice for you? Before making your decision, you should first determine what your needs are.
Contract warehousing is best served for companies that are looking for medium- and long-term storage options and have an interest in outsourcing logistics and order fulfillment to a 3PL provider.
If you’re busy trying to grow or maintain other areas of your business, you may not have the necessary time or resources to dedicate to the storage and distribution of your merchandise.
Contract warehousing solves that problem by providing a dedicated staff that can offer a variety of logistics solutions. You still retain control over the warehousing process, but it removes the need for daily oversight. In turn, this gives you the ability to focus your attention and resources on the areas that need them most.
Contract warehousing can also make sense if your company lacks the time or money necessary to invest in a private warehouse, or is simply looking to boost its distribution efficiency and reliability.
Contract warehousing offers many benefits that other options just aren’t able to. Whether you’re looking to save money, ensure your company has dedicated warehouse space, or increase the reliability of your services, it’s hard to argue with the advantages of using a contract warehouse.
One of, if not the biggest advantages of contract warehousing is the amount of money that you’ll save, particularly in bypassing the need for large investments of capital.
The start-up costs of a new private warehouse, particularly if it has to be built from the ground up, can be cost-prohibitive for the average company. And even if you’re able to go that route, it can take decades to see the return on your investment.
Building or expanding a warehouse means expensive construction costs, not to mention time (and we all know time is money). Even if you plan on buying a fully constructed warehouse, you can still expect to spend a decent chunk of change on not only the initial purchase, but on additional renovations and equipment installation. And both options still require you to staff the warehouse.
With contract warehousing, all of those issues are taken care of. It gives companies instant access to a fully staffed warehouse capable of storing a variety of goods and equipped to offer services optimized to meet their supply chain goals.
A contract warehouse, as the name implies, requires that a contract be signed by all parties involved in order to do business. Another way to view the contract is as a safety net for your warehousing needs.
Entering into a contract agreement is in the best interest of both you and the 3PL provider running the warehouse. The contract length is agreed upon before signing, meaning that whether it’s signed for one year or for 10, both parties are locked into the agreement until the term comes to an end.
For the warehouse company, that means they’re guaranteed a client and source of revenue for the duration of the contract. For you, it means peace of mind, knowing you don’t have to worry about unexpected expenses or a sudden need to find new warehouse space. You know exactly what you’re getting when you sign the contract, and for many companies, that assurance can mean a lot.
In the business of logistics and order fulfillment, reliability is key.
In order to keep customer satisfaction high, goods need to be delivered as ordered and in a timely manner. And that all starts with the warehouse.
The good news is that contract warehouses employ a dedicated staff tasked with providing accurate and efficient work, and most importantly, with the ability to handle increased demand.
Your flow of goods is not always going to remain consistent and the warehouse providers know that. As such, contract warehouses are specifically engineered to adjust and meet your current level of need, ensuring that your goods are delivered in a reliable and timely manner and that your customers remain happy.
Finding the right partner to address your storage concerns and help you meet your supply chain goals is crucial to growing your business, optimizing cost-to-serve, and keeping your customers happy.
We’ve already outlined how a contract warehouse can provide your company safe, reliable and cost-effective storage while providing a number of other value-added services. Now, the key is finding one that can be shaped to meet your needs so that you can make the best choice for your company.
Fulfillment and Distribution, powered by R+L Global Logistics, can help you do exactly that. Fill out a fulfillment warehouse quote today and see how we can help you find the right warehouse option for you.