Intermodal transportation has a significant role in international logistics and has changed the way manufacturing companies operate and do business. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that intermodal international logistics affects the operations of manufacturing companies. In particular, the factors contributing to the rise of intermodal transport will be discussed, and also the changes in manufacturing operations that utilise the benefits that intermodalism provide. Finally, some limitations of intermodal transportation and the challenges it faces to meet the demanding needs of business will be presented.
Intermodal transportation is defined as an integrated system for transporting goods efficiently and inexpensively using at least two different modes of transport, such as air and truck, under a single bill of lading. The means of transportation are "transparent" to the shipper (David p.208), meaning that the shipper does not have to worry about organising each mode, rather that he needs to be aware that different modes may be used so cargo should be packed accordingly.
Overall transportation and logistics costs are lowered by selecting the mode of transport that is most suited for a particular segment of the trip. Economic benefits are realised through consolidating different transportation systems into a seamless and integrated transportation network that utilises the comparative advantages of different modes of transport (Yevdokimov 2001).
Intermodal transportation is a relatively new concept, with the first forays into this system beginning in the 1950's with experiments using standard sized containers to hold cargo. Before the 1960's, when container use was less common, ocean cargo transportation cost approximately 10 to 15 percent of the retail value of the goods carried (Donovan 2001). Cargo arrived at the ports in boxes, barrels and bags and was manually lifted piece by piece onto cargo ships. This caused a long delay of ships in...