Intermodal Transport: Efficient Transport Means Management

Intermodal Transport

Intermodal transport is the movement of goods in the same unit or vehicle with the successive use or two o or more means of transport, where the goods are not handled during the changeover from one means of transport to another. The definition drafted by the Ministry of Public Works gives an idea of the benefits of this type of transport: the security and savings entailed owing to the fact that the goods are not handed. Let’s look at what the terms are.

This type of transport involves goods being grouped into loading units or closed ILUs (containers, swap bodies or semi) to reduce load handling, therefore lessening the possibility of losses, b reakage or theft. These units also facilitate their transfer or transshipment to the different means of transport (road, rail, sea, etc ) used to bring them to their final destination

Intermodality ultimately involves further integration and complementarity between different modes of transport, allowing the goods shipment system to be used more efficiently from one point to another What is its purpose? To conduct goods and material transshipment operations in a quicker and more efficient manner.


Lower costs

An exporter who does not need to use an entire container can opt for intermodal transport due to the fact that it allows for the combination of full load and groupage systems.
The use of loading units also reduces the handling of goods, involving reduced labour during transportation, facilitating transshipment and transfer of the ILUs from one means to another (reduced loading and unloading times), and preventing the separation of the goods (breaking load).

Greater security

Any possible damage is minimised, due to the fact that the goods are in a closed cabin, which is only opened at the point of destination. Administrative procedures, controls and customs inspections are simplified, thanks to the sealing of the ILUs, thereby saving on waiting and travel time and optimising delivery deadlines.

Environmental benefits

A saving in goods packaging and packing, reduction in power consumption per loading unit with a minimisation in CO2 emissions of the means of transport / carriers used, entails a reduction in the transport carbon footprint.

Multimodal transport

Intermodal transport is the one type of multimodal transport. The difference between the two is that the first one involves the issue of a transport document for each means of transport used (truck, boat, etc.) while only one single document (the FIATA Bill of Landing, FBL) is issued in the second case. However, while each means of transport used in the intermodal system involves the issue of its respective documents, the documentation is unified for all of them.

This shipment system allows goods to avail of the benefits of each means of transport used, from the point of origin until arrival at their final destination, in terms of improved swiftness, a higher load volume, more competitive pricing and security, to name a few.


This article was originally posted on Biologistik.