Transloading: Why it is the Right Way to Ship your Freight

For businesses that need to ship their products to companies across the country and the world, there are a wide variety of freight options. However, if you are looking for the most flexible, cost-effective method that exists for shipping your important products, you should consider transloading.  As the premier company for all of your industrial packing and crating needs, we would like to share the following information about transloading and why it is the most effective and cost-efficient way to ship your freight.

The Basics

Transloading: An Overview

When you are planning to ship your business’ products, you may have considered trucks, rail, boats and even planes. While all these methods have their strengths, they also have their weaknesses or drawbacks. However, by choosing transloading, you will get all of the benefits of these shipping methods with very few drawbacks.

Put simply, transloading is moving goods from one destination to another using a variety of shipping methods. This means that your products may start their journey on a plane, travel for a bit on a railway, then reach their destination on a delivery truck. By choosing transloading, you will receive many advantages, including increased flexibility and reductions in cost.

Reducing Costs

For businesses that rely on shipping, maintaining a cost-effective supply chain is of the utmost importance. When controlling supply chain costs matter, transloading is your best solution.

The obstacle of using a single shipping method is that it often leads to wasted money, particularly in terms of fuel costs. However, transloading is easily able to overcome this difficulty. For example, when shipping over railways, your products can travel more quickly and over larger distances for less fuel than would be required by trucking.

By combining these two methods­ — rail for the bulk of the journey and trucking for the delivery — your business will be able to tremendously reduce supply chain costs. Saving money is one of the biggest benefits of using transloading.

Increased Flexibility

Another benefit of transloading services that many businesses are unaware of is the flexibility provided by transloading facilities. When you have access to transloading facilities, you can manage your shipments in a variety of ways, including storing some of your goods at the facility for on-demand shipments to local customers.

If you have a bulk delivery to a transloading facility, it can be broken down, repackaged into multiple shipments and sent to customers or its next destination easily and effectively. Using a transloading facility means being better able to respond to your customers’ needs thanks to flexible options for managing your shipments.

How Energy Costs Affect Transloading

If your company relies on transloading for successful operations, then there are many factors to consider when planning your costs. As you are aware, numerous issues can affect your total transloading costs, including the size of your shipment and how far it must travel. However, perhaps more than anything else, the cost of fuel can have a big impact on your shipping costs.

Because the cost of fuel and other energy can be so volatile, you must understand exactly how fuel prices can influence your transloading expenses. We would like to discuss some of the ways fuel costs can alter shipping prices and to further discuss how transloading can help reduce your business’s overall shipping costs.

Trucking Costs

One of the most common methods of transloading large equipment and shipments is using trucks, and the cost of shipping by truck is beholden to fluctuating oil prices. Right now, when fuel costs are relatively low, shipping by truck is inexpensive compared to what it might be during times of high energy costs.

Getting the most out of your money when it comes to transloading is dependent upon striking when fuel prices are low. Before committing to shipping by truck, always look at the current price of oil, as this will be one of the determining factors of your final transloading costs.

Railway Expenses

When oil prices are high, you might want a less expensive form of transloading, which is when you should consider shipping by rail. Also, known as intermodal shipping, railway shipping is generally not as strongly affected by shifting energy prices, and may provide you with a big savings opportunity should oil prices rise, particularly if the items you need shipped are not time-sensitive.

However, when energy prices are low, the relative sluggishness of intermodal shipping reduces its utility. Low oil prices mean shipping by truck is either the same price or less expensive than rail shipping—not to mention the quicker delivery time.

Costs of Shipping by Air

Finally, we come to shipping freight via airplanes. Although shipping by air is not the best solution for every job, it is one of the quickest, which makes it a great choice when it comes to rush deliveries. In terms of fuel, however, it can be hard to get a good price on this type of shipping method, regardless of the current energy prices.

Although commercial flights tend to experience price drops in tandem with reduced fuel costs, industrial air shipping is generally unaffected by fuel price. In fact, many companies that offer shipments via airplane raise their prices when fuel is inexpensive to increase their profits. So, as you can see, shipping freight by air may not be an economical choice, even with beneficial energy costs in play.

Environmental Compliance and Transloading

For most businesses that are using transloading as their main shipping method, the primary concern is how to effectively ship your products so that they reach your consumer intact and on time. However, if your business deals in more sensitive materials, such as chemicals or crude oil, then you also must juggle environmental concerns and regulations as well.

Fortunately, complying with transloading environmental regulations is not as difficult as you might think. With the right preparation, you can balance environmental concerns with quick shipping times and reasonable costs. Here is a brief overview of some of the environmental compliances that you may face as well as suggestions to help your business deal with them.

Preventing Spills

When transporting sensitive materials like caustic chemicals, one of the primary environmental concerns is the prevention of spills. Whether you are transporting by rail or by truck, securing your potentially toxic load is key in a safe, quick transloading operation.

Although your transloading service should handle the spill protection requirements within the railcar or truck itself, you may be responsible for the packaging material used to transport your materials. First and foremost, you need to make sure that any dangerous materials are sealed in a liquid-tight container to mitigate spills. Consult with the companies that are responsible for shipping before packing any of your materials, as they may have tips for handling your sensitive items.

Transferring your Freight

Another concern you might not be aware of in transferring substances like chemicals or oil is the necessity of handling transfers between railcars and trucks. This is a concern when the custody of your items is shifted between shippers, or your items must travel across various borders.

Before transloading can occur, it is important to plan the most expedient, simple route for your products. Not only will this increase safety through the course of your item’s journey, but it will also eliminate the need to facilitate custody transfers. As with spill prevention, consult with your transloading company or companies about the possibility of transfers and how to best handle these circumstances.

Getting the Right Permits

Finally, when transloading environmentally precarious materials, one of the largest concerns is having the right paperwork. Transporting sensitive items is highly regulated, and without the right paperwork, it is very easy for your important transloading jobs to fail before they even begin.

Before scheduling any transloading, it is a good idea to have all your required paperwork in hand, especially those permitting you to ship your delicate products. With your documentation sorted out, your transloading service will be better able to facilitate your shipment needs.

If, however, you have never had to secure this type of paperwork before, a good industrial transloading service can advise you on how to get the proper forms and legal permissions.  Give us a call and let us help you with some of the more difficult requirements such as permits and documents.  We have over 30 years of transloading experience and understand how to ship even the most dangerous or difficult of freight.

Factors to Consider in Transloading

The various holiday seasons are some of the busiest times of year for transloading. Businesses and individuals are trying to get their products and packages delivered on time and at the prices they want. However, holiday transloading is a much more difficult proposition than at any other time during the year, which means that it is important to examine some of the obstacles that can keep your products from being delivered on time.

Pay Attention to the Weather

Out of all the factors that can affect holiday transloading, perhaps the most important one to be aware of is the issue of weather. Although the weather is a transloading concern throughout the year, it becomes of even more importance during the Christmas and New Year season where winter weather like snow and ice can greatly delay shipping and make it difficult for your products to be delivered in the time you’re looking for.

When you are planning your holiday transloading needs, work around the weather. Periodically check the weather reports both in your location and the shipping destination to make sure you pick the ideal time to schedule transloading.

Be Prepared for Traffic Delays

If you pick a traditional transloading source, such as using shipping trucks, then you need to be aware of how traffic can affect your shipment during the holiday season. Traffic, of course, is always a concern for regular shipping, but like most things, it deserves even more attention during the hectic holiday season.

In addition to increased traffic on the road due to holiday travel, there are also a large number of transport trucks hitting the highways, which only compounds the risk of traffic slowdowns and delayed transloading deliveries. If possible, try to schedule your holiday transloading around heavy traffic times to avoid inconvenient and sometimes costly delays.

Ship Your Freight On Time

If you are experienced when it comes to transloading, then you know that the key to shipping success is picking the right times to send your products, and this is especially true when it comes to holiday transloading. As mentioned, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year for transloading, which means you need to be proactive about scheduling your shipping to make sure that your most important products are delivered on time.

Never delay scheduling your transloading, as this is the best way for your orders to get lost in the holiday shuffle, resulting in long shipping times and unhappy customers. Be proactive about scheduling your transloading so that you and your customers have a happy holiday season.

 Is Transloading Right for Your Company?

Before changing your shipping methods or carrier, it is a good idea to ask the question – are there ways to move your freight more efficiently?   If you think the answer to this question is yes then chances are it is a good idea to consider transloading or leveraging several different modes of transportation to reduce your shipping costs.

Choose Wisely

If you have a land-based trucking firm move your shipment to a transloading site only to have it reloaded back onto trucks, then you are not thinking along the right shipping lines.  To properly utilize transloading for your business’ shipping needs, you should be looking at utilizing a variety of shipping methods – transloading should involve rail, sea and truck-based shipment—maybe not all three in one freight shipment, but some combination of two (or more) should be on your radar.

Pick the Right ProviderVancouver transloading

Make sure when you are looking for transloading companies that you pick the right one. Your provider should have access to multiple shipping carriers and offer services that can enhance your freight carrying. Cratex offers services like custom crating, shipping consolidation and land to sea loading along with many years of experience in the field. We understand all of the complexities of the transloading and shipping world and will work with you and your business to find the perfect combination of shipping methods for the most cost-efficient and fastest results.

Have a Plan

The longer you wait, the more your freight shipment is going to cost. Unless there is a good reason for you to wait until the last minute, get your planning done early. Transloading providers can get full very quickly depending on factors like time of year or economic climate (think the holiday seasons). This means that waiting until the last minute can limit your choice of providers or end up costing you much more. Try to leave at least six months to plan ahead, if you can. The more time you leave for planning, the better off you will be.

Factor in Time Delays

Remember, the transfer from one carrier to another does not happen instantaneously. Often there can be 48 to 72 hours of delay between the time that a shipment arrives to a transloading provider and it getting shipped back out again. You should factor at least that much time (or more) into your shipping time estimate for your customers. Otherwise, you might find yourself dealing with angry customers and late shipments.

Do the Math

Transloading is not right for everyone. You should sit down and run through a rough estimate of the numbers to ensure that you are going to be seeing the right amount of savings when using a transloading provider. After doing the calculations, you might find you are better off picking options like LTL freight rather than using transloading. Pick what is best for you and your shipment to ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment.

If you are not sure if transloading is the right approach for your shipping needs, contact us today.  Our knowledgeable staff understand all the complexities of the shipping world and provide a wide range of different shipping methods.  Let us work with you to tailor a shipping network that is the perfect fit of cost efficiency, speed and full customer satisfaction at both ends.  We look forward to working with you and being a part of your shipping network today.