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Selection Factors for Multimodal or Intermodal Transportation

In today’s society, transportation plays a vital role in logistics. Transportation is important for shippers to optimize routing and to reduce total shipping cost for each shipment.  The most common modes are Intermodal and Multimodal Transportation, both have their own advantages in the transportation process, not limited to delivering goods from point A to Point B.  The mode of transportation used can affect the efficiency in which the goods are delivered, as shown that the efficient route for transportation might not necessarily be the most cost-effective one and vice versa. Hence, the best route often takes a balance between cost and efficiency. Moreover, it can be seen that choosing the right transportation mode has a great impact on the delivery duration.  Shipper need to be informed about the final demand for each shipment.  This article discusses the various factors that must be considered when choosing a suitable transportation mode.

Total Landed Costs

To obtain best routing is not the same to getting the best total shipping cost.  Total landed costs not only limit for shipping and raw materials cost is include all of the cost incur and getting the product into customer hand, additional fee like import duties, customs clearance, shipping insurance and other related cost. Intermodal transportation is more dominant since there is new contract for every mode of related transportation, approaching different transport carriers can be compared for the best total shipping cost.  Intermodal transportation are namely shippers that can negotiate terms separately with each mode of transportation to get lower rates.  Intermodal transportation can be used to reduce costs and this will greatly reduce the Total Landed Costs to the lowest. 

Handling Efficiency

Intermodal transportation is given better routing efficiency as shipper can flexibly to changes the routing of the shipment.  Shipper can make the decision to load and unload goods at different ports at any time without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes.  This can reduce and eliminate any traffic and customs processes on the highway.  Intermodal is easier to plan and support for large cargo.  Shippers can manage equipment, better control capacity and selection of transit schedules. For Multimodal, it is controlled by a single contract, meaning that one transport carrier is fully responsible for moving the shipment in all legs and requires less coordination and paperwork, despite Multimodal transport using several modes of transport, only one transport carrier has the bill of lading for the shipment.

Prompt and Reliable Delivery

Multimodal Transportation is under the control of one transport carrier for the shipment, shipper can easily keep track in anytime for cargo location, easier monitoring and updating shipment movement to customer in the reduced duration. Punctual delivery is important to consignee as it will affect the factory production, any delay might affect the production line and cause huge losses.  Therefore, the mode of transportation plays a certain role in punctual delivery.  Multimodal Transportation is usually more suitable for products that have an expiration date which requires a simpler and faster shipping mode.  Advantages of multimodal transport includes door to door delivery service which makes it the most preferred mode in the transportation industry sector.


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Sharon Chang Chee Hui, DLSM
Sharon Chang Chee Hui has substantive years of experience in the field of logistics and shipping, specifically in coordinating freight, export and import shipment, as well as warehousing. She holds the SIPMM Executive Certificate in Freight Management and is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Sharon completed the Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management(DLSM) on September 2021 at SIPMM Institute.
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