More Glossary Terms

Multimodal Transportation

Multimodal transportation, or combined transport, is the movement of a freight shipment under a single carrier contract but using at least two transportation modes among road, rail, air, and ocean.

Multimodal Transportation:

Multimodal transportation, or combined transport, is the movement of a freight shipment under a single transportation carrier contract but using at least two transportation modes among road, rail, air, and ocean.

What Is Multimodal Transport?

Multimodal transportation occurs across industries operating in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) environments. International freight movements typically require multimodal freight transportation strategies to move shipments between overseas locations and U.S. customers.

In a multimodal approach, an organization might move products from a foreign factory to a domestic distribution center. For this example, the freight shipment moves in an intermodal container before it is deconsolidated and trucked as pallets over the road. Truckload or less-than-truckload trips can serve the example’s distribution center or individual stores.

Multimodal and Intermodal Transportation

Multimodal and intermodal transportation involve multiple modes of transit (road, rail, air, ocean).

Multimodal transportation services complete a freight shipment under one contract of carriage and might combine ship or plane, rail, and/or truck. Cargo might move among different containers for a multimodal shipment. Additional carriers may be involved in the end-to-end transportation of the freight, but one logistics services provider takes sole legal responsibility.

Intermodal transportation completes a freight shipment under multiple contracts and transportation modes. Cargo remains in the same transportation container through the intermodal freight shipment. With intermodal transportation, there is a contract with each party responsible for the movement of the freight.
What are Advantages of Multimodal Transport?
Transportation that combines shipping modes, whether multimodal or intermodal, allows shippers and logistics services providers (LSPs) to deliver reliable and affordable transportation services.

Benefits of effectively using multiple transportation modes:

  • Reduce overall transportation costs and limit time-consuming capacity procurement activities.
  • Access additional freight capacity available during periods of constraint in TL, LTL, rail, air, or ocean services.
  • Tap into more rate options and flexible shipment timelines.
  • Limit transit time by moving freight on the optimal vehicle using the optimal route.
  • Support carbon footprint control using movements that limit air pollution emissions, fuel consumption, and unnecessary vehicle moves.
Multimodal freight managed by a multimodal transportation operator (MTO or freight forwarder) is easier to track because it requires fewer communications, improves routing, and shortens transit time.

See how to control costs with multimodal transportation.

How Does MercuryGate Support Multimodal Transport Logistics?
Multimodal optimization

Shippers and LSPs moving a freight shipment using multiple transport modes optimize planning for multimodal using MercuryGate technology. The unified platform empowers tracking for multi-leg transit using aggregated and granular data.

Multimodal optimization using MercuryGate typically achieves:

  • 7% reduction in outbound freight and fuel costs.
  • 5% cut in spending on less-than-truckload (LTL) freight.
  • 5% cost reductions on inbound freight.
  • 20% reduction in load planning time.
  • 60% less time spent on transportation network modeling.
Multimodal rating

MercuryGate multimodal rating allows shippers to compare transportation modes for cost and service levels, including time-in-transit and delivery capabilities. Multimodal rating allows freight management teams to maximize multimodal transport and optimize cost and service to end customers.

This requires access to a broad amount of freight rate information, including rates extended directly by carriers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and brokers. Point-to-point integrations with digital freight matching tools offer shippers added visibility to comprehensive freight rate data.
When shippers and carriers can access updated information about rates and expenses associated with a particular load, they can better decide what to take on and what to pass up.
Implementing a cloud-based TMS optimizes multimodal shipping services with multimodal rating accessible in the same operational platform as other transportation management tools.
As circumstances changes, modern supply chain management requires a TMS that can optimize transportation strategies at every stage and circumstance in a freight shipment’s multimodal life cycle.

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