Reefer Madness?


As a supplier of refrigerated products, you now have more options than ever to transport your goods.  Be it refrigerated box car, refrigerated trailer on flat car, refrigerated intermodal, or the old reliable refrigerated over-the-road.  Choosing the best method for your company requires understanding the pros and cons associated with each method, and finding the mode, or mix of modes, that works best for your business.


When discussing options with your broker, it is important to articulate what your requirements are to insure that you are utilizing the best mix of transportation methods.  For example, intermodal rail can be an excellent choice if your loads are typically less than 42,500 gross lbs. However, rail service can be delayed during the winter months due to weather, or delayed during peak rail times due to drayage availability.  Refrigerated Trailer on Flatcar is an excellent choice if you require drop trailers at your facility; however, the cost to ship can sometimes be higher than refrigerated intermodal due to the inability to double stack trailers. Refrigerated box cars can be ideal if you ship high volumes from coast to coast; however, manual handling of the product in and out of the box can lead to excessive claims, hidden storage fees, and taxes that eat away at potential savings.


I usually advise my clients on using mixed modes of service for the best cost-to-benefit ratio. For example, when you invest in a mutual fund, the fund has a mix of different stocks to give your portfolio volatility protection and a steady rate of return. Using a mix of intermodal shipments with traditional over-the-road carriers will protect you against rate volatility, limited capacity, and time in transit issues. We can also change the mix from 80/20 to 50/50 to 20/80 or anywhere in between to maximize savings and improve transit times.


If you are interested in pursuing the rail, make sure you work with a transportation provider that can offer all the available methods of transport in order to obtain the best pricing and capacity options available for your specific needs.




Managing Member

Columbia Fresh Transportation Services

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