Currently intermodal form of transport is the stronghold of world trade. Intermodal transportation targets at integration of various modes of transport in order to promote improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire distribution process. Intermodal transportation integrates modes of transports such as air, rail, trucks and ocean navigation, operation carriers facilitating the transportation services of these modes. The central concept of the intermodal transportation entails consolidation of loads so enhance efficacious long-haul transportation, and also utilizing the effectiveness of the local pick-up together with other local delivery operations using trucks. This gives an explanation why the container-based transportation is important. This report focuses on analyzing the significant features of the intermodal transportation and the issues they face. Freight intermodal transportation normally gets compared to the moving containers for long distances by means of multimodal chains.
Literally, containers that are fully loaded leave the shipping facility by truck towards a railway yard. They are then loaded onto a train and transported to another rail yard. Among the issues faced include, heavy traffic and congestion which greatly hinder there operations, double stack of modes of transportation, ineffective strategic planning of yard areas. To address these issues, the government can intervene and help solve the issues by restructuring the infrastructure in the terminals should be done such as lowering the overpasses and the establishing shorter interstation distances which will help to ease the processes and as well save time.
Most consumer goods and other bulky, fragile and high-valued commodities are often transported by sea managed by a container stevedore. Currently intermodal form of transport is the stronghold of world trade (Bektas & Crainic, n.d.). Intermodal transportation targets at integration of various modes of transport in order to promote improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire distribution process. Intermodal transportation integrates modes of transports such as air, rail, trucks and ocean navigation, operation carriers facilitating the transportation services of these modes (Bektas & Crainic, n.d.). The central concept of the intermodal transportation entails consolidation of loads so enhance efficacious long-haul transportation, and also utilizing the effectiveness of the local pick-up together with other local delivery operations using trucks (Monios, n.d.).
This gives an explanation why the container-based transportation is important. Freight intermodal transportation normally gets compared to the moving containers for long distances by means of multimodal chains. Literally, containers that are fully loaded leave the shipping facility by truck towards a railway yard. They are then loaded onto a train and transported to another rail yard. Here, the trucks are again utilized in transporting them to another rail yard. This last event might be deemed not necessary suppose the sea container terminal has an interface to the railway network whereby the case freight is transported directly (Eatough, Brich, & Demetsky, n.d.). Container are therefore transported to the port to other continents shipping through the ocean form the place they are leaving by either through the means of trucks or rail to their intended destinations. This paper analyses the significant features of the intermodal transportation and the issues they face.
This is a box unit carrier that is used to carry freight. It is strong enough to be used repeatedly and normally stacked and convenient for all transfer modes. A stander container is normally twenty feet long, eight feet wide, and six feet high. This unit is known as the Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) (Lubulwa, Malarz, & Wang, 2011). Intermodal transportation depends on the use of containers since it has numerous advantages. To begin with, use of containers promotes safety by substantially minimizing loss and damages because the contents in the container cannot be easily modified or influenced unless at the point of origin or at the container’s destination. Actually, the safety status of the container transportation at the present is substantially alleviated by electronic sealing and evaluation with an aim of addressing probable risks such as terrorist threats, illegal smuggling and migration.
Second, because of its standard structure, it has fast transfer operation at intermodal transportation terminus and uses a small effort (Zografos & Regan, 2004). This leads to reduced cargo handling which therefore fasten the operations both at the terminal and for the entire transport chain. Thirdly, they are flexible and thus enable the transportation of products with differing methods dimensions and types (Zografos & Regan, 2004). Forth, the concept of containerization facilitates proper and better management of the goods in transit. Because of these reason, the usage of containers critically minimizes transport costs.
Containerization has a significant effect on land means of transport and the manner in which terminals are structured. Ports together with container terminals have been erected or revisions have been undertaken to hold consistent larger container ships while sufficiently performing the loading, transfer and unloading activities (Lubulwa et al., 2011). Container terminal equipment and standard operational procedures are consistently enhanced for the improvement of its productivity and compete in time and cost in order to attract ocean shipping lines.
Carriers play a significant role in the intermodal chain since they offer a customized service, whereby the vehicle is solely dedicated to a specific customer or might be operating in the form of consolidation, whereby every vehicle transport (“Future of Intermodal Terminals,” n.d.). Within the intermodal chain, varies might provide a tailored service whereby the customer function based on consolidation, whereby every vehicle move freight for various customers with possible varying origins and destinations. Full load trucking is a classified example of commissioned transportation (Lubulwa et al., 2011). Upon being ordered by a customer, the truck is designated to the precise task by the dispatcher. Then the truck is driven to the customer’s location, loaded and moved to the different destination whereby it is unloaded.
Due to this the driver is however designated a brand new tasks by the dispatcher, then he is kept waiting till a new current demand arises (Marzano et al., 2018). The advantage of full-load trucking arises from its flexibility in adaptation to extreme dynamic environment with inexact future demands providing service reliability with minimal tariffs than other modes of transportation. Every transportation mode based on consolidation incorporated in intermodal transportation has to provide sufficient, reliable and affordable services (Giannopoulos & Tyrinopoulos, 2006). Somewhat, railways encounter bigger challenge when in competition with trucks in provision of shipper with the expected level and quantity of services they need for their transportation needs.
Shippers establish the demand for transportation. Basing its definition on its logistics strategy representing a complicated decision process, the transportation mode choice is only a simple part of the entire strategy (Panova, Hilletofth, & Krasinskaya, 2018). The process is usually assumed to be composed of a three-level decision making structure, made up of short, medium and long-term decisions. Eventually, the logistics strategies of the shippers’ definition are in terms of customer connection and productivity (Janić, 2007). Medium term plans entail decisions regarding the portfolios at the production, the warehouse, and distribution amenities.
Eventually, the shipper makes a decision that is short-termed with its qualities of service needed for its shipment like the minimum rates, time of transport, and safety (Janić, 2007). In instances when decision are made, shippers take into consideration the availability and traits of services provided in the market through the carriers and brokers and third party logistic givers. However, in many instances, shipper’s decisions are of high value and of great importance for the output of the service instead of how it is delivered.
1.4 Intermodal Terminals
The intermodal terminal may belong to a certain carrier or under operation independently in place of the public firm. The major mandate for these facilities is the provision of sufficient space and equipment for loading and unloading various modes of transport (Konings, 2003). In an instance whereby containerized traffic needs attention, the operations undertaken are limited to handle the containers only and not the contained cargo. Terminal operations are inclusive of vehicle, cargo sorting and consolidation, making of convoy and vehicle transferring to other services (Konings, 2003). Certain terminals such as airports, sea post precisely offers the first line of security, immigration and customs management for a country.
The transferring of containers between trucks and rails occur at rail yards. When containers reach a rail yard by means of a truck, they are transferred to a rail car immediately or maybe stacked in a waiting bay (Bask, Juga, & Laine, n.d.). Therefore, containers are now collected from the waiting bay then loaded to rail cars that connected to form blocks and trains. Upon arrival of containers by means of train, they are transferred to trucks through the use of reverse operations (Kuo, 2008). A container port terminal offers transfer amenities for containers from sea vessels to land transport means precisely rail and truck (Brander & Wilson, 2001).
Terminals of this kind are made up of three areas. For the sea side area, it entails the docks for ships berthing and quay cranes that enhance the loading and unloading of the containers efficiently in and out of ships. Gates that receive for the receiving trucks and trains are situated in the land side area constituting an interface mediating between land and sea transportation system (Sussman & Conklin, 2001). This is the area where loading and unloading of rail cars take place. Also there is a place reserved where empty and loaded containers are stacked and also used to load and unload trucks.
In a container port terminal, activities may be divided into three classes; actually, the first class entails the operation dealing with containers unloading, berthing and loading into ships. Upon a ship arriving at the terminal, the ship is booked for berthing and some quay crane. Some planning issues arises here, for instance determination of berth time and position for a certain container for a given quay, making decisions on the type of vessels that every quay crane shall attend to and the related service time, and creating the patterns of loading and also unloading of containers, also the decision of an appropriate position to place every contain intended to be loaded to a ship. The operation pertaining to the second class are connected with the delivering or receiving trucks or trains going to and from the land side. Containers are brought to the terminal’s gate by a train or a truck.
After inspection is undertaken, trucks are given directions to the container loading yard area. The trucks may then leave empty or loaded with a new container. However, empty trucks come to collect containers. Upon containers arrival by rail, the containers are transferred by use of a gantry crane on to a transporter which then moves the containers to the precise designated area. The gantry crane is also utilized in loading containers to trains that are departing. Numerous variations exist here based on the layout and the terminal’s operation means, which still raises fundamental planning problems. The operations class focusses in the handling and storage of containers activities in the yard. Finally, the last operations class engages in container handling and storage.
The determination of the container’s place of storage in the yard either as a group or as individual is known as the space-allocation problem. Literally, this issue is a serious planning component in the way containers are situated in the yard significantly impacts the time allocation for each ship and land modes of transport. Decisions about allocating and dispatching of transporter, cranes are often carried out in real time to address issues attributed to the yard. Moreover the terminal experience heavy traffic and congestion which greatly hinder there operations.
To address the issues identified above, the following recommendation needs to be taken into consideration:
- The industry needs to be significantly restructured though a number of series of alliances , mergers and acquisitions which will substantially minimize the number of intermodal companies which will eventual lead to a limited number of main players thus improving efficiency and strategic planning process.
- Subdivision needs to be done into separate divisions so as to efficiently address the issues attributed to the intermodal traffic, also emphasize in operation of only dedicated and assigned vehicles, engines and marshalling facilities even if situated within regular yards.
- Double stack containers and provide proper parking for delivery trucks so as to provide enough space for container movement thus enhance smooth and efficient processes.
- Revolutionize and implement more strict planned and scheduled operation modes and also introduce digital booking system and full asset use operational policies.
Findings and Discussion
Even though most freight operations in intermodal terminus operate under scheduled operations. It is important to establish and implement stricter and well planned schedule in order to fill the gaps and address the existing issues such as congestion and confusion. This will facilitate a good interaction of freight trains with those of passengers and improve service quality provided to customers. The government can intervene and help solve the issues by restructuring the infrastructure in the terminals should be done such as lowering the overpasses and the establishing shorter interstation distances which will help to ease the processes and as well save time. This will also avoid double stack trains.
Moreover, digital booking systems need to be established and used extensively so as to enhance smooth operations and create order. Full asset utilization use and revenue management operational policies will help to ensure smooth process operations. Bookings can be done internet or phone based to allocate each customer their space in trains or ship automatically. This approach for operation of intermodal services is advantageous to the carrier as it reduce the operational costs and asset use and attracts more customers since it increase reliability and enhances convenience.
A full asset use operation policy typically corresponds to operation of regular and consistent scheduled services having a fixed structure. This is to mean that given a particular frequency every operation taking place in the terminus with a specified capacity and same definition in terms of origin and destination; blocks progress from the classified operation in the yard. Assets such as trains, trucks, ships and engines dedicated to a system based on full asset use operation policies may result in constantly circular schedules and routes.
Several other issues have to be solved and provide an exciting research perspective. Considerably for instance albeit booking being effective by smoothing and manage the demand while minimizing its variability at the same time, the gaps in the system are not entirely eliminated. Normal operations can be disrupted by some phenomena such as the varied time of arrivals of ships in sea port terminal. They are also not regularly distributed hence custom and security verification can prolong delaying the release of containers. In such situations, the terminal operations are critically strained; it can result in delayed arrivals for several days then followed by a big number of arrivals of containers at once causing congestion and confusion.
However, the optimization approaches can be utilized in adjusting services over medium-term horizons in was such that meet the full asset use policy is implemented though a certain extent of flexibility is included to services to suit the service and demand. Essentially, these approaches can be even more effective if they precise information sharing and efficient container-release time slants are implemented.