Simplify Your Multimodal Shipping in 3 Easy Steps

Aug 15, 2023

When it comes to moving goods locally, most businesses have figured out a method that works best for their needs — but a supply chain’s complexity can scale quickly. As distribution channels grow and new modes of transport are introduced to facilitate more efficient delivery, what was once a simple aspect of your business can become painfully convoluted.

Managing the contracts, handoffs and estimated delivery times across multimodal transport is often challenging for businesses in the midst of rapid expansion, but with a few key ground rules (and an experienced 3PL just a phone call away) your company has everything it needs to kick its supply chain up a notch.

1. Understand Multimodal Is Not Intermodal

Utilizing more than one shipping method to move goods is referred to as either multimodal or intermodal transport. Intermodal transport is defined by multiple contracts, bills and reports between a shipper and each individual carrier involved in the shipment. Multimodal pertains to shipments requiring more than one mode of transport, but are contracted with one provider under a single bill of lading.

In general, intermodal shipping requires significantly more logistical and management complexity. Carriers have to be able to deliver freight directly to the next mode, contracts have to be negotiated with each individual carrier, and someone has to manage all communications between the involved parties to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

If an intermodal carrier is late due to shipping delays or other problems, someone has to be able to quickly communicate the necessary changes in itinerary to all remaining links of the chain as well as quickly resolve the time already lost.

For these reasons, most companies prefer multimodal shipping.

2. Prioritize Visibility to Make Multimodal a Walk in the Park

One of the biggest selling points of multimodal shipping is its deceptive simplicity. Since all shipping modes are grouped and managed under one single carrier and contract, all communications between drivers and operators, handoff details and route planning remain within the same single chain of command.

That also means cutting the amount of paperwork you’d normally be doing in half, and naturally makes troubleshooting any shipping delays a more streamlined task if there is any sort of logistical hiccup.

But perhaps the greatest multimodal stress reliever is access to unparalleled visibility and tracking when shipments are managed by one consistent carrier. With multimodal transportation, goods are transported along a connected network of shipping modes all plugged into the same tools and client portals.

With improved visibility, streamlined communication and far less administrative work, it’s no wonder multimodal transportation often produces speedier (and more cost-efficient) delivery times.

3. Enlist an Experienced Multimodal 3PL Partner

Third-party logistics companies are some of the best providers of multimodal transportation services. They have daily experience in developing more efficient ways to get your goods delivered — plus a pre-established network of carriers they trust to call upon even in short-notice situations.

Enlisting the services of a 3PL also means leaving all contract negotiations with carriers to your new partner. A 3PL’s reputation can come in handy when negotiating rates, finding trustworthy drivers and dealing with tricky customs delays or other situations requiring outside shipping authorities.

When our partners choose First Call Logistics, they access all the benefits of our tracking technology, our carrier network and our positive track record with officials to fully optimize product delivery.

Learn more about how First Call can manage your multimodal transport here!

Simplify your Next Cross-Border Shipment with First Call Logistics

Building and managing cost-efficient supply chains is a full-time job. First Call’s rare combination of in-house assets, expert problem-solving and track record of stellar customer service makes us the 3PL of choice for business partners with a wide range of shipping needs.

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