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Intermodal Transport Management

Intermodal Transport Management – Using and combining different Modes of Transportation effectively

Freight Forwarding

by Editorial Office

In cross-border logistics, the ability to transport goods cost-efficiently, quickly and sustainably from origin to destination is crucial. With intermodal transport management that strategically links modes of transportation such as rail, water, air and road, companies can meet complex supply chain requirements. By combining the respective advantages, an intelligent transport system is created that harmonizes ecological and economic efficiency. In our latest article on the blog, we discuss the advantages of intermodal transport management and explain which technologies support the seamless integration of different modes of transportation.

Different modes of transportation: Diversity for customized solutions

Intermodal transport management is based on the premise that no single mode of transport offers the best solution for all transportation needs. Truck transport, for example, impresses with its flexibility and area coverage, while rail transport scores with its high capacity for bulk goods and environmental friendliness. Air freight is unsurpassed in terms of speed, while transportation by cargo ship offers a cost-efficient alternative, especially for international supply chains. With intermodal transport management, this diversity is used for customized solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of the respective goods and their supply chains.

The advantages of multimodal transport chains at a glance:

  • Cost reduction: By intelligently combining different modes of transportation, companies can shorten transport times, reduce empty runs and improve the utilization of means of transport.
  • Real-time visibility: From the first to the last mile, shipments can be tracked in real time using digital technologies, thus enabling precise planning and response to unpredictable events. This is also essential for customers as they increasingly value reliability and punctuality.
  • Sustainability: Optimizing the transport chain has a significant impact on the ecological footprint – by calculating CO2 consumption and comparing all modes of transportation and routes, the optimal combination of different transport modes and routes can be created.
  • Risk management: The flexibility to switch between modes of transportation increases the adaptability and responsiveness of supply chains to disruptions, delays and failures and ensures greater resilience. The preferred use of environmentally friendly means of transportation also reduces the risk of companies violating environmental guidelines and regulations.

Intermodal transport management: Seamless integration of modes of transportation

Effective intermodal transportation management requires precise logistical planning and coordination of the various modes of transportation. From comparing forwarding offers and booking to monitoring deliveries and managing exceptional situations such as geopolitical conflicts, extreme weather conditions or strike-related downtimes, logistics experts need to consider and integrate a large number of factors. Advanced IT systems for monitoring and controlling transportation flows can provide significant support.

Digital platforms, which provide real-time data on the delivery status and connect the various parties along the supply chain, play an important role in this context. Through proactive real-time notification of disruptions, failures or delays, companies can take immediate action in order to minimize the impact on the supply chain – for example, by rescheduling routes, adjusting delivery dates or even activating alternative transport modes.

The blockchain provides a secure and unalterable record of all transactions along the supply chain. In decentralized networks, all players can track the movements and status of their shipments in real time, and the risk of fraud, administrative errors or delays is minimized. The Internet of Things also supports intermodal transport management: IoT devices such as GPS trackers, sensors and RFID tags enable a seamless monitoring of goods – from temperature control of perishable goods to container opening.

Other pillars of a modern transportation management system (TMS) are AI and Machine Learning. These technologies allow us to analyze large volumes of data in order to identify trends, create forecasts and make automated decisions. For example, AI algorithms can determine the optimal combination of means of transportation, taking into account the route, CO2 consumption and delivery time.

Intermodal transportation supports sustainability efforts

Many companies have put the reduction of CO2 emissions and the implementation of ESG criteria at the top of their agenda. In times of CSRD and LksG, intermodal transport offers an effective strategy for optimizing not only logistics costs but also the ecological balance sheet. Intelligent route planning and improved capacity utilization of the means of transport reduce energy consumption and the need for fossil fuels: The combination of rail, water and road transportation enables a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per transported unit.

Through individual adjustments, the multimodal transport chain supports both the environmental and operational goals of companies. “The solutions can be very unique, as every customer has different transport requirements,” explains Tobias Ruscheweyh, Head of Branch Group Service and Lead Sustainability & Risk Management at Hermes International.Sometimes interim approaches are a suitable solution: Let’s assume a company needs a certain product quickly and has so far preferred to ship it exclusively by air: in this case, it would make sense to send only 20 percent of the goods as air freight and send the remaining 80 percent as sea freight. That way, the initial demand can be met and CO2 emissions can be reduced at the same time.”

Conclusion: Intermodal transport management – a bridge between efficiency and environmental protection

With intermodal transport management, companies can master the balancing act between reducing costs, increasing efficiency and sustainability in the global movement of goods. Digital technologies such as collaborative platforms, blockchain or IoT create transparency across the entire transportation process and enable seamless adjustments to dynamic changes. Thus, the advantages of the various modes of transportation can be optimally combined. With the ability to combine operational performance and environmental responsibility, intermodal transport management represents an opportunity to understand efficiency and sustainability not as opposites, but as mutually reinforcing goals. Companies that exploit synergies in their supply chains and use means of transportation flexibly will therefore not only increase their competitiveness, but also contribute to greener and more sustainable logistics.

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