Cut Carbon Emissions With Multi-Modal

Cut Carbon Emissions With Multi-Modal

The transportation industry is responsible for almost 30% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor in the country. It’s also one of the largest opportunities for improvement.

While many worry that going green might be expensive, sustainability and cost savings go hand in hand for shippers. Moving freight with a mix of modes that maximizes efficiency and minimizes empty miles can protect both the environment and the bottom line.

How can multi-modal shipping save money? If you regularly ship volumes less than 12 pallets or 28 linear feet of trailer space, several less-than-truckload (LTL) options can reduce your costs. And if you have some delivery date flexibility, you can also save by shipping intermodal. As long as you pack freight correctly and avoid accessorial charges, intermodal is cost-effective for lengthy hauls.

How can multi-modal shipping make you more sustainable? Businesses can reduce their environmental impact by building a strategy that takes advantage of underutilized capacity. There’s plenty of it to go around: 15-25% of all trucks on the road in the United States are empty at any given time, and 36% of loaded trailers aren’t full to capacity.

Converting from over-the-road to intermodal for long hauls and using box trucks or sprinter vans for final-mile deliveries are also eco-friendly options.

The typical box truck omits 30% less greenhouse gas than a tractor trailer if your shipment is fewer than 28 pallets. However, intermodal is the most environmentally friendly way to ship a full container, omitting roughly 30% less carbon emissions than a full truckload.

Shared truckload is an emerging method that allows suppliers to pair partial loads together using truckload carriers without the intricate LTL terminal structure, leading to a more sustainable solution.

Optimizing Modes

How do you get the most out of each mode? Factors like size, distance, urgency, and equipment will determine the right mode for you at any given time.

Full truckload is the most common choice for shipping 12 or more pallets. If you want to minimize transfers of fragile freight, meet strict delivery deadlines, or ship refrigerated or open deck, this is likely the mode for you.

Choose standard LTL to ship 1-6 pallets. It will be cost-effective and offer consistent capacity. Volume LTL is also an option for 6-12 pallets, but there’s less available capacity.

Properly packing products is critical with LTL shipments to avoid damage incurred during loading and offloading. Also, familiarize yourself with the terminology involved in building an LTL shipment. Get your freight class right, or you could face heavy fees.

Box trucks and sprinter vans offer low emissions, and range and transit time flexibility, as drivers aren’t subject to CDL hours-of-service regulations. However, volume and pricing surges are often felt more severely in the final-mile market these vehicles usually serve.

Know when and where to use intermodal. Timing can be less reliable when shipping intermodal, so it’s often best for B2B freight rather than for goods consumers are waiting on. Block and brace freight correctly to avoid damage.

Ask for help. Keeping track of all carriers across every mode can be complex and time-consuming. Streamlining the process by working with a 3PL can help orchestrate your carrier network while unlocking efficiency and modal conversion opportunities.

Communication is key to build and execute your supply chain strategy. Your best ally is one who can speak all the languages necessary—truckload, LTL and intermodal.

With the right support, you can meet both your budget and sustainability goals through your supply chain operations.