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Seamless Shifts: The Art of Transloading in Modern Logistics

Published on
April 9, 2024
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As e-commerce has made the world one big superstore by introducing new markets across the supply chain, transloading has become the world’s shopping cart.

Instead of taking the goods from the store to the car in the parking lot, transloading uses forklifts, conveyors, pumps, front loaders, and heavy-duty cranes to quickly move freight short distances from/to ships, trucks, trains, and planes to optimize the best transportation mode for each load.

It gives shippers the opportunity to take advantage of rail without having tracks nearby.

One railcar can carry up to four truckloads of goods, so various commodities can be loaded and unloaded from each car after the rail long-haul and onto multiple trucks.

Transloading differs from intermodal shipping in that containerized goods are transferred to different modes at certain points in the supply chain, allowing for quicker delivery.

How Transloading Services Open Global Doors

Transloading is the behind-the-scenes workhorse of the supply chain, allowing shippers to take advantage of the economic benefits of rail while also reducing emissions and traffic congestion.

E-commerce has made transloading logistics more essential than ever.

Let’s say you’re the purchaser for several furniture stores across the country, and you discover a new line to sell that is built in Indonesia, a new market for your company. You need four truckloads, one for each store, and while the price is right, the shipping costs and timeline have to fit your needs.

In this example, the furniture is loaded into containers at the factory and transported via drayage truck to the port, where it’s loaded by crane onto a ship — the “first mile” of the supply chain journey. Upon reaching a U.S. port, the container is offloaded via a crane to a drayage truck, which can transport it to a rail yard for the next leg of the journey. Or, the container can be taken to a port terminal, where the furniture is transloaded to LTL or truckload and transported to a distribution center, retailer, or the end customer.

Every move of the cargo, whether it remains in the container or is removed and separated for the next leg of the journey, must be planned for and tracked. Real-time tracking is essential with transloading. The more freight is moved and separated, the more risk of misplacing cargo. Experienced logistics companies minimize that threat.

Transloading differs from intermodal shipping. By combining modes, shippers get the flexibility of over-the-road trucking and the affordability of long-haul rail shipping.

Benefits include:

  • Reducing costs.
  • Less dependency on over-the-road trucking.
  • Lowering the carbon footprint compared to shipping by truck alone.
  • Flexibility.
  • Increasing market reach.
  • Shipping more products while still spending less.

The Transloading Process: A Closer Look

At its core, transloading is needed for any shipment that doesn’t stay in its original container.

Most anything can be transloaded:

  • Liquids, via pumps.
  • Household goods (floor tiles, clothing, furniture, electronics, etc.), via pallets and forklifts.
  • Building materials such as pipes, metal, rebar and bricks via forklifts or cranes to flatbeds.
  • Oversized items like wind turbines and heavy machinery via cranes.
  • Small items, such as pellets, sand, and flour, as well as items such as paper, Christmas trees, and solar panels. The list goes on.

The type of product determines how it is transferred between trucks and trains and to which type of railcar (e.g., tanker, flatcar, or boxcar).

Types of Transload

Origin Transload: Products are loaded onto the trucks at the point of origin, such as a manufacturing facility or warehouse. From there, trucks bring it to a transload facility to unload and onto railcars for the long haul.

Destination Transload: The product is loaded into one or more railcars at the origin of the shipment. The train then hauls it the majority of the route to a transload facility, where it is transloaded from railcars and onto trucks for the short distance to final destinations.

Door-to-door Transload: This combines the above processes.

The Critical Role of Transloading Facilities

Location, location, location.

The strategic placement of transloading facilities is a major key for efficient shipping across the country. It must provide easy access to the interstate and have rail nearby for short-trip transfers. And it must have a lot of room for the amount of goods it will store and the trucks coming in and out. Transloading facilities enable shippers to move products quicker and avoid demurrage, late fees, and other excess costs.

VCPB: The Right Choice When Choosing a Transloading Logistics Provider

If your business is involved in international trade that requires the transfer of goods from one mode of transportation to another, partnering with a logistics company that understands the complexity and challenges of coordinating multiple modes of transportation is key.

At VCPB Transportation, we understand concerns over the safety and security of goods during the transloading process, the unpredictability of delivery times, and the importance of compliance with regulations and paperwork.

We offer:

  • Comprehensive transloading solutions tailored to the needs of each customer.
  • Skilled and experienced staff with expertise in transloading logistics and compliance.
  • Real-time tracking and updates on the location and condition of goods.
  • Cost-effective transportation options that align with shipping schedules and requirements.

To ensure your freight’s route is streamlined with each move properly coordinated with hassle-free logistics and compliance and includes real-time tracking as well as being cost-effective, connect with VCPB.

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