INTERMODAL SHIPPING: Top 3 Considerations

Before Malcolm McLean, the shipping and logistics world was a different place. Tired of how much time it took to load and unload shipments, Malcolm McLean needed a more efficient system. He wanted a better way to ship his client’s cargo. His idea to create an intermodal shipping container offered the solution that he and his clients desperately needed. Imagining how his business would transform the transportation industry, Malcolm got to work.

McLean was positive that the intermodal shipping container would work. He sold his trucking business, and in 1955 took out a bank loan for $42 million. He spent $7 million on an already established shipping company. Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company already had docking rights in many eastern port cities. McLean was targeting these ports and shortly after buying them, he renamed the company SeaLand Industries.

Due to the huge financial savings of using an intermodal shipping system, the company’s growth sky-rocketed. By 1970, SeaLand Industries had 36 container ships and twenty-seven thousand containers. And with rail connections to more than 30 ports in America, business was booming. McLean then sold the company to R.J. Reynolds for $160 million.

Today, intermodal shipping continues to grow. What McLean envisioned in the 50’s has taken on a life of its own. With driver shortages, unstable fuel prices, and new government policies restricting driver hours on the road, intermodal shipping is even more attractive. If you are looking for new ways to reduce costs and improve service, here are some key reasons to consider intermodal shipping.


Intermodal gives you more options for transportation so you don’t have to rely solely on trucking services. Though trucking is still an integral part of the intermodal shipping system, it’s easier to find a truck driver to do a short day run versus one who will provide long-haul services.

Saves money

Using intermodal transportation is more cost effective than relying only on long-haul trucking. A load that travels by rail requires far less diesel than that of a truck and no drivers. Companies can take advantage of rails lower rates, reliable service, and transit technology.

Better for the environment

Of course, shippers can reduce their carbon footprint by using intermodal. Trains produce far less carbon dioxide per 100 ton-miles than trucking. Intermodal is also a much more efficient form of shipping. Large numbers of freight containers move together instead of one or two on trucks.

Hit with driver shortages, increased demand, and higher fuel prices, the transportation industry needs options. With the innovations of Malcolm McLean, intermodal is a viable choice for companies rethinking their logistic strategies. For more information, please contact one of our Langham Logistics representatives today.


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