• tnwcorp2019

What to Consider When Shipping Your Agricultural Goods Multi-Modal &Transloading Options

Updated: Aug 26

Source: TNW Corporation Article, 2021

As U.S. growers in rural communities across America work hard to strengthen their economies, the partnership between farming and multimodal transportation providers are successfully embarking on a new era of relevance, as they are experiencing more opportunities to work together. Currently, the United States is the world’s leading exporter of agricultural products. America’s farmers and ranchers make an important contribution to our economy by ensuring a safe and reliable food supply, improving energy security and supporting job growth and economic development. Agriculture is particularly important to the economies of small towns and rural areas where farming subsidizes a number of sectors from farm machinery manufacturers to food processing companies.


U.S. agricultural exporters are well-positioned to capture a significant share of the growing world market for agricultural products. High levels of farm production, in turn, improve the prospects for downstream businesses such as food processing companies and biofuel refineries. Annually, the agriculture industry averages roughly 4 million carloads of farm, food and related products being shipped by railroads alone, which is at least 14% of total U.S. rail carloads. Trucking is another critical form of transport for rural America. It carries 70 percent of agricultural and food products, alcohols, fertilizers, lumber, wood products, and other goods.


Solid transportation and transloading options are a critical link for agricultural exporters to stay competitive and efficient. The agriculture industry needs a highly flexible multi-modal transportation system since its needs are seasonal, which will require frequent hauling during planting and harvest, but with less need during the rest of the year. With more and more options to transload and transport your goods across the nation, what are the best opportunities to give your business a significant advantage? It’s important to choose a transportation logistics plan that is best tailored to your distribution needs, since not all are built the same. Here are a few things to look for in a logistics provider:


Multi-Modal Options

Multimodal shipping is the movement of goods using more than one different mode of transportation under an individual contract. At the end of the day, the smooth flow of goods through the supply chain world market for agricultural products. High levels of farm production, in turn, improve the prospects for downstream businesses such as food processing companies and biofuel refineries. Annually, the agriculture industry averages roughly 4 million carloads of farm, food and related products being shipped by railroads alone, which is at least 14% of total U.S. rail carloads.


Trucking is another critical form of transport for rural America. It carries 70 percent of agricultural and food products, alcohols, fertilizers, lumber, wood products, and other goods. Solid transportation and transloading options are a critical link for agricultural exporters to stay competitive and efficient. The agriculture industry needs a highly flexible multi-modal transportation system since its needs are seasonal, which will require frequent hauling during planting and harvest, but with less need during the rest of the year. With more and more options to transload and transport your goods across the nation, what are the best opportunities to give your business a significant advantage? It’s important to choose a transportation logistics plan that is best tailored to your distribution needs, since not all are built the same. Multi-modal options are critical in providing “just in time” delivery, followed by the objectives of maintaining minimal inventory. Whether it’s truck-to-rail or rail-totruck services, partner with a company that will act as the physical shipper/receiver to safely transport your goods. Look for facilities that offer rail served transload services to allow more control over the variables involved in delivering your products from point A to B.


Transloading Options

Simply put, transloading is the ability to transfer huge amounts of cargo from one form of transport to another, such as going from railcar to truck. This enables you to keep your transfer times short and gives you greater quality control over the process. The purpose of transloading is to use bulk freight methods to get your goods closer to their final destination. Because transloading often requires moving product from one container to another, or from containers to pallets, etc., between trains and trucks, an experienced company will complement the logistics solutions you use. Choose a transportation logistics provider that has the experienced personnel in agriculture transloading, warehousing and logistics to manage the integrity of your goods, while providing cost-effective transportation solutions to give your company a competitive edge.


Tracking Capabilities

When you consider partnering with a transportation logistics company, make sure they provide solid tracking capabilities that will ensure accuracy in lead times and stock rotation. Look for a provider that offers Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to give on-time delivery solutions and warehousing options that are tracked and shared on a regular basis with customers. Multi-modal shipping involves clear communication between multiple parties in order to keep things running smoothly. The good news is that while a transportation logistics provider will sometimes utilize carriers in varying modes, you’ll communicate directly with one source. There is no need to worry about endless emails with subcontractors, and no day-long phone calls trying to resolve issues. A good logistics provider will be your one point of contact and can help If you have questions or concerns about your shipment.


Strategic Location

Choosing the best transportation logistics partner with transload facilities generally involves three factors: distance to receivers, rail lines available, and the transloading facilities’ equipment. Look for partnerships with logistics providers that have rail served transload capabilities and are positioned strategically near distribution routes, including major interstates and railway junctions that can easily interchange with Class 1’s to get your products back on the road faster. When comparing costs per ton mile by truck and rail, rail has the potential to cut costs in half. This means minimizing transportation by truck can dramatically reduce costs. With that in mind, it’s important to choose a facility as close as possible to your receivers. It’s also important to consider volume in this equation. A good rule of thumb is to choose a transloading facility as close as possible to your primary receiver, as this normally yields the lowest cost.


Having access to transload services can give your company an advantage few others utilize. In theory, you could park your freight truck near a train and transfer the contents manually. However, transload facilities feature specialized cranes, conveyors and car dumpers to make every transloading job more efficient. Transload facilities play a vital role in many companies’ shipping networks. These facilities allow shippers to realize benefits from a combination of rail and truck. Maybe you’ve used the same transload facility for some time, and you’re wondering about other opportunities. Or perhaps you’re reassessing your shipping plan to accommodate new receivers, products or taking a closer look at recent price increases. Remember, you may have more options than you think. In an industry where pennies are the difference between success and failure, efficient transportation and transloading logistics will give you plenty of space to reduce your total production costs.


Keep the above tips in mind when selecting a transportation logistics provider to move your products safely, because the story of successful farm management begins and ends with efficient and properly managed transportation and transloading solutions.