Intermodal I: Transloading vs. IPI
Gridlock in the inland distribution network in 2021 caused ocean carriers to pull back on international intermodal, also known as inland point intermodal, or IPI. The market hasn’t fully recovered yet as IPI volume was down 15 percent year over year in the first quarter of this year, according to the Intermodal Association of North America. Shippers are transloading international loads into 53-foot containers or trailers to avoid the markups ocean carriers are charging for IPI, the headaches finding a driver and an available chassis to pick up loads, and punitive rail demurrage penalties often from factors outside the control of the importer. Where IPI has rebounded in 2022 — the West Coast to the Midwest — trucking companies are reporting many of the same problems as last year: higher truck turn times, not enough chassis, and rail demurrage penalties. This session will explore whether railroads, chassis providers, and other supply chain stakeholders have been able to handle IPI volume any better this year, and whether persistent struggles in handling the inland flow of ocean containers may lead to a permanent shift as intermodal providers such as Hub Group, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Schneider National, STG Logistics, and Swift Intermodal invest in their transloading services.