Intermodal Transportation Management Software

Profit Tools prepares carriers of all kinds for a rising intermodal tide. 

In a two recent webcasts by the Journal of Commerce, entitled Forecast for Intermodal in 2012, and Forecast for Trucking 2012 the panelists all agreed on one thing - intermodal is a growth industry for 2012. (The recorded webcasts are available to anyone - register here.) The panelists conclude that intermodal as a whole, both international and domestic, are looking to grow in 2012; however, it was the domestic side of intermodal that had everyone the most excited. In Forecast for Intermodal 2012 Tony Hatch, Sr., Transportation Analyst/Consultant of ABH Consulting, describes domestic as a “super-nova for growth”[1]He expects intermodal as a whole to be up 6+%, with international increasing 3% and domestic gaining 8%[2]. He, goes on to explain that there is an ongoing shift in capacity from the road to rail, especially in longer haul scenarios. In Forecast for Trucking 2012, Benjamin J. Hartford, CFA SENIOR Research Associate/Transportation Analyst, at Robert W. Baird, echoes that sentiment. Hartford says that we can “expect intermodal container volume to continue to take share from truck, particularly in the eastern U.S.”[3]. Mr. Hatch suggests that railway innovation, including larger trains, routing protocols (scheduled rail), and increased double-stacks are some of the reasons behind the trend.[4] Major private investment by the railroads has allowed for these innovations to flourish. Railroad “expenditures for 2011, when all is said in done, will come in well north of 12 billion…” and predictions for this year put “…2012 up over 2011 by five to ten percent.”[5]. Employee productivity is also on the rise at the rails.[6] Put all of this together and Tony concludes that the $50 Billion dollars invested in the rails in recent years is the reason rail service for shippers is an at all time highs.

So what does that mean for the common carrier? If you are already involved in the drayage market you can expect a rise in the amount of domestic container business that is out there. If you are not already involved in the drayage market this may be a good time to think about expanding your services. Either way, if you are going to be moving more containers through rail terminals, planning, tracking, and scheduling moves becomes increasingly important.

Through Profit Tools’ flexible dispatch and operations platform it is easy to manage a variety of different service offerings. Profit Tools has unique tools for the drayage carrier, but also handles TL, LTL, Brokerage, and specialty operations with ease.

One unique tool for the drayage carrier is our Track& Trace (T&T) module (download your free trial today). Profit Tools pioneered the effort to streamline the checking of container availability with T&T.  Instead of logging on to multiple websites to check your various containers’ availability Profit Tools simplifies the process by bringing it all into one place. Not only does T&T bring your container tracing into one central location, it continuously monitors the containers for updated information and reports back to you any changes. With increased traffic on the rails not only does inbound container availability have significant importance, but so does rail billing. Ever had a driver take a loaded outbound to the rail and get stuck for hours because the rail billing never went through? Profit Tools has recently upgraded T&T to check for rail bill status. Now you can customize your dispatch screens to automatically inform dispatchers when rail billing has been confirmed on any of the major rail websites.

With more and more long haul capacity shifting from road to rail Profit Tools makes it easy to stay up with shifts in the industry. Diversify your services and become more efficient with your container dispatch for both inbound and outbound freight.

[1] (4:45, Forecast for Intermodal 2012).

[2] (7:40, Forecast for Intermodal 2012)

[3] (36:45, Forecast for Trucking 2012)

[4] (14:12, Forecast for Intermodal 2012)

[5] (16:00, Forecast for Intermodal 2012)

[6] (17:40, Forecast for Intermodal 2012)