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5 Unique Challenges of The Intermodal Industry and How To Address Them

The ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate had a significant impact on the US’ intermodal industry. On one hand, it fixed a driver’s hours of service on the other it fuelled the driver shortage problem. This is just one part, then there are challenges like manual dispatching, rising operational expenses, and poor customer experiences.

Let's dive deeper into each of these challenges and understand how it's impacting the intermodal industry.

ELD Limitations
ELD solutions have inherent limitations when it comes to integrating with multiple logistics providers. Also, dispatching via an ELD solution in most instances requires a premium and expensive plan resulting in increased operating expenses. Another challenge that intermodal providers face happens to be truckers not willing to integrate ELD devices in their vehicles. According to a recent survey, 51% of carriers say they had to let go of drivers who did not want to operate under ELDs.

Dispatching Issues
Poor interoperability between disparate logistics platforms like TMS, WMS, 3PL systems among others results in poor visibility of data and makes manual dispatching a mammoth problem. In the case of short-haul, the problem becomes even more acute as most businesses restrain from using ELD-systems. Another drawback of executing dispatching manually is lack of flexibility. It becomes difficult to accommodate changes on the fly and scale processes.

Poor Customer Experience
The likes of Amazon have taken customer expectations to a whole new level. But a lot of businesses in the US fail to match up to the new standards of delivery expectations as they lack the tools to allow customers to choose and change delivery location and time, provide end-to-end transparency of delivery progress and more. Also, these businesses fail to provide adequate visibility of delivery processes to customers. Customers barely have any idea where their orders are and when will they arrive.

Increasing Intermodal Costs
Dispatching today incurs fixed monthly operational costs not suited for fluctuations in demand. This means that businesses end up paying more for intermodal operations even when demand is low. Operating costs also rise significantly owing to a high degree of manual dependency.

Driver Shortages
The US is facing acute driver shortages. According to American Trucking Associations, the driver deficit swelled by more than 10,000 to 60,800 in 2018. The association estimates that 160,000 driver positions will go unfilled in a decade. The shortage is most acute for long-haul drivers, where the average age is 46, and workers are on the road for weeks at a time. The shortage of drivers results in immense capacity crunches and makes it harder to respond to demand spikes.

How Advanced Logistics Management Software Can Help

When it comes to ensuring real-time tracking of delivery trucks leveraging mobility is key. Most drivers in the US are armed with smart devices and data plans. Savvy businesses that build modern logistics applications allow drivers to quickly download the same with zero-costs. This increases the chances of tracking applications being used. Once the app is in use, businesses and intermodal providers can easily track a vehicle. 

Advanced logistics management platforms reduce intermodal costs by allowing businesses to pay only for what they use. This is crucial as the demand for intermodal providers are very seasonal. It is not pragmatic to pay a fixed cost even when the requirement is low. Such software providers ensure that businesses get feature-rich Amazon type of delivery experience with every investment they make to use the platform. A platform like this automates task allocation by keeping delivery workflows ready well in advance. So, when a driver logs into the app he will be immediately assigned tasks based on delivery duration, location, etc.

Non-asset based intermodal providers invest significant amounts of time and effort looking for available drivers. This makes responding to demand spikes difficult. By using crowdsourcing capabilities, a modern logistics platform can onboard drivers seamlessly from across multiple markets. 

We just scratched the surface, there are a plethora of ways advanced logistics software optimizes intermodal operations. FarEye is empowering enterprises to optimize intermodal operations by addressing the market’s unique challenges. To know how FarEye can empower you to boost your logistics operations sign up for a quick demo here.

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