If your business or organization depends upon shipping cargo over long distances, be it across country or overseas, then you have likely come across the term “transloading”. You’ve also likely heard that it can be among the most efficient and cost effective means of shipping. So what is it exactly?
Transloading, in essence, is a shipping methodology that combines more than one mode of transport where cargo is transferred from one mode to another (and perhaps another) during the journey. Sometimes it is the only means for which an organization can ship cargo from point A to B and in other instances it serves as an alternative that cuts costs and improves efficiency. Transloading is most commonly used when one method of transportation simply can’t be used to complete the trip. For example, if you are shipping agricultural commodities from the prairie provinces of Canada to an overseas destination you clearly cannot perform this task with one mode of transport since you are not located in a port city. The shipment will need to leave via truck or rail and then be transferred to a shipping container before being loaded onto the ship for overseas travel.
Rail shipping is a perfect example that calls upon transloading on numerous occasions. Many exporters will depend upon rail for their cargo to begin its journey however the end customer may not have facilities located on a freight railroad. Another issue with shipping via rail is with respect to break-of-gauge. The gauge on a railway is the spacing between the rails. When one rail meets a line where the gauge differs the train cannot continue on that course. Transloading is then the only option to allow the cargo to meet its destination. On many occasions transloading is used during the rail shipping process simply to keep costs down by integrating another form of transport into the A to B processs. It allows a level of flexibility that exporters (and importers who often have the cost passed onto them) appreciate in today’s economical climate.
The first leg of the process has the cargo traditionally loaded onto the initial transport (e.g. boxcars, flatcars, etc…) and shipped from the point of origin to the transload site. Upon arrival the mode of transport (freight car in this example) is prepped for unloading at the transload site. Because this is a specialized process the cargo is safely and efficiently removed, reducing the traditional risk associated with transference. The removal depends upon the cargo. Bulk dry goods may be removed through a gravity/pneumatic outlet while cranes, forklifts, and other lifting methods are used for most other hard cargo. Temporary storage is often a part of the process in situations where an agreement is in place where the customer is not ready to receive the cargo until a set point in the near future. Once the cargo is ready to embark on its final leg it is transloaded onto the new means of transport (ship, truck) and on its way to the final destination. When done using a professional transloading service the process goes without a hitch.
“Professional” is the key. No exporter requiring this special process should allow their cargo to leave until they have secured a relationship with a company that can provide the transloading services that can accommodate the sensitive nature of their goods, the location that works for the route, and at a price that makes sense. If you need transloading services in relation to the Greater Vancouver / Lower Mainland region then we encourage you to contact Cratex Group today.