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When looking for the optimal freight shipping mode to save you time and money, you'll likely run across multimodal shipping. This mode of shipping allows you to not only avoid the hassle of booking several individual carriers to move your freight from point A to point B but may also provide substantial cost savings as you work to grow your business. That's why we've compiled a list of benefits and tips for incorporating multimodal shipping services into your freight process.

Defining Multimodal Shipping

Multimodal shipping services involve the use of multiple carriers across two or more shipping modes to transport your freight. Typically, one contractor coordinates the entire shipment, so shippers benefit from one comprehensive contract and one invoice. With multimodal shipping, shippers can schedule all portions of a shipment's journey at once, cutting time and labor costs associated with multiple contracts.

Multimodal vs. Intermodal Shipping

Many shippers confuse multimodal shipping with intermodal shipping, but there is a clear distinction between the two methods. While multimodal shipping involves a single contractor handling each leg of the freight's journey, intermodal shipping involves having a separate contract for each mode utilized. Each method comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, so make sure to do your research before deciding which is right for you.

Multimodal Shipping Intermodal Shipping
Carriers and Contractors In multimodal shipping, one contractor will organize all carriers. This means less freedom of choice but may simplify the scheduling process. In intermodal shipping, each carrier used will have its own contractor. This gives the shipper more freedom but may add difficulty when scheduling.
Associated Costs Multimodal shipping can be more expensive, since the contractor will pick the best options over the most cost efficient. Intermodal shipping gives shippers the freedom to choose carriers and modes that fit their specific needs and budget.
Responsibility Since there is only one point of contact, multimodal shipping takes the responsibility off the shipper in case of damage, delays or other challenges. As their own organizer, shippers utilizing intermodal shipping are responsible for handling all potential road blocks with all carriers used.
Shipping Speed Multimodal shipping may be faster since the contractor will choose the most efficient path for transport. Intermodal shipping may be slower since shippers often choose cost-savings options over efficiency.

Benefits of Multimodal Shipping

So why book multimodal transportation for your shipments? Along with cost savings and ease of planning, multimodal shipping provides an array of benefits for freight shippers. Some of the benefits of multimodal shipping are:

Improved freight spend

When implemented correctly, multimodal shipping can lower shipping costs because it reduces the need to contract multiple carriers, keeping volume discounts and guaranteed capacity at their peaks.

Ease of communication

Since multimodal transportation includes only one contractor, shippers need not worry about communicating delays or challenges to a long list of carriers. Your contractor is singularly responsible for coordinating the transport of your freight door to door.

Faster delivery times

When all shipping modes are booked at once and on a single contract, freight takes less time and effort to transition from one mode of shipping to the next, allowing for faster transit time.

Tips for Utilizing Multimodal Shipping Services

There are many ways companies can increase their operational efficiencies by utilizing multimodal transportation, but getting started can feel overwhelming. Luckily, working with a reliable third-party logistics (3PL) provider with innovative technologies can help streamline the process and make booking multimodal shipments a breeze. Here area few tips to help you get started:

Integrate carrier systems into your TMS.

When you partner with a 3PL, you'll gain access to their transportation management system (TMS) where you can keep track of all shipments and records in one convenient location. You can even link the carrier systems you use most often to get real-time data about each of your shipments. A supply chain can only be successful through effective communication, so utilize real-time TMS data to keep your team up to date with complete visibility of your shipment.

Use APIs to digitize the tendering and quoting process.

Fluidly move freight through the supply chain while monitoring its progress and detect any potential issues early on by utilizing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are connections that allow you to customize your shipping technologies. With APIs, you can integrate key details into your e-commerce website, warehouse management system (WMS) and more, allowing you to gain end-to-end visibility of your supply chain processes.

Consider all modes of shipping before booking.

Multimodal shipping, while great for saving time and money in some instances, is not the ideal choice for every shipment. Before booking, make sure to consider all shipping modes and compare the benefits of each. It's important to choose the methods that work best for you, your companyand your shipment.

Consider freight consolidation when applicable.

Shippers should also consider freight consolidation to move between modes properly and avoid losses. Determine what size shipments are flowing throughout the facility at any given time. Is it a full truckload (FTL) or a less-than-truckload (LTL) shipment? Knowing how to maximize consolidation/deconsolidation is a critical aspect of multimodal shipping.

Make the Most of Your Multimodal Shipping with GlobalTranz

The first step to implementing multimodal shipping services is to partner with a reputable 3PL that offers top-notch solutions, integrative technologies and unmatched support. At GlobalTranz, we pride ourselves on providing best-in-class solutions for our network of customers across the nation. Whether you're debating the use of multimodal vs. intermodal shipping, or you're looking for the best ways to save time and money on your shipments, we have the solutions you need to keep your business on the right track. Connect with an expert today to learn more about how GlobalTranz can improve your shipping strategy.