Modern supply chains are evolving and becoming faster, more efficient, and more effective. This has become a significant part of finding every advantage to meet the demands of retailers and consumers alike. While shipping is just one part of an effective supply chain, it is probably the most essential place to find efficiency due to the costs and time associated with getting products from point A to point B. One commonly overlooked way to become more efficient for shipping is to utilize rail logistics wherever possible.
Shipping via rail freight transport offers many advantages for most supply chains:
The clearest and most important advantage of shipping via rail logistics is efficiency. A standard rail car can fit 3.5 to 4 times the amount of product that a standard dry van can. This means that for every rail car shipped across the country, it’s the equivalent of taking 4 semi-trucks off the road. This can present efficiency savings in a number of areas. From fuel savings to product handling, materials can be delivered, handled, and put into storage for distribution with fewer resources involved.
With prices and rates rising throughout the supply chain, finding cost savings is important for every organization. With the efficiency of shipping via rail logistics, cost savings can be had in multiple areas. The transportation itself is cheaper as trains haul with strict schedules and larger quantities can be moved at a time vs. standard trucking. Due to the large volume of products held in rail cars, handling in a warehouse or distribution center also typically will have cost savings vs truckloads coming in.
Risk in a supply chain can be one of the biggest motivating factors for a company to make a change. When shipping via rail logistics, you are taking trucks off of the road, which reduces the chances of an accident, shipping error, or even theft.
Flexible with Commodities
While shipping via rail logistics doesn’t sound as flexible as moving via truckload, in some respects, it can be even more flexible. Oversized products such as building materials can fit into different types of rail cars such as A-Frames easier than in a dry-van. Rail cars can also hold much more weight than trucks and trailers. Loading large amounts of heavy products like paper or canned goods can give your supply chain more flexibility as products move throughout the country.
Green Supply Chain
Becoming more efficient also can come into place for sustainability within your supply chain. Shipping via rail logistics and taking multiple trucks off the road for every single car is an easy way to become greener. Fuel savings are the number one driver of sustainability for freight trains.
While taking four trucks off the road per rail car is a large driver, trains are just flat out more fuel efficient. A locomotive is about four to five times more fuel efficient per ton moved than a truck. If just 10% of freight in the country was shifted to rail logistics vs. trucks there would be over 1.5 billion gallons of fuel saved each year. This would be equivalent to taking nearly 4 million cars off the road.
When looking at your supply chain and important places where you can become more efficient, save money, and even reduce risk, rail shipping can be a great solution for many different commodities. Oversized and overweight materials can find more flexibility with rail shipments than standard dry-van shipping.
Finally, becoming green and sustainable is an important part of every supply chain and rail logistics shipping provides not only cleaner and more fuel-efficient shipping but takes trucks off the road! If you’re thinking of shipping via rail, reach out to the Murphy team to help you find the right solution for you!