So, what makes good products to ship via intermodal? The simple answer is that almost anything that can be shipped, can be shipped via intermodal. Please note we said almost anything.
If you have heavy product, such as beverages, canned goods, paper products or lumber, you can ship those in intermodal service. But if you are moving these types of goods that usually hit their maximum weight before they use all the cube in a 53’ box, you may want to consider moving them in smaller boxes. A 40’ box moving from Chicago to Los Angeles, will save you several hundreds of dollars versus shipping in a 53’ container. The 40’ box supply is predominantly controlled by steamship lines. They want to get their boxes back to port locations so they can send them back out into international traffic. They offer reduced rates in lanes that support their goal.
If your product is light, such as potato chips, pillows or footballs, you can still ship via intermodal in the 53’ container or trailer. These products should be packaged in such a way as to avoid shifting. When they move, they still get to take advantage of the economies offered by shipping intermodal, yet they are utilizing equipment that is equivalent to OTR units.
As you can see, almost anything can be shipped via intermodal. What may be more telling is what can’t or shouldn’t be shipped via intermodal. In our next installment, we will discuss products that aren’t particularly well suited for intermodal transportation.