Seasonal Effects on Intermodal Transportation
Intermodal transportation has several benefits, such as cost-effectiveness, reduced chances of theft and accidents, and even reduced environmental impact. Although these are very positive aspects of shipping, intermodal transportation can also run into certain issues due to weather and seasonal changes. These concerns need to be taken into consideration when planning to get supplies from point A to point B. Read on to learn more about how the changing of seasons can affect intermodal transportation.
As the year progresses, the supply chain varies on the products, commodities, and locations it is transporting. During the months of January, February, and March, volume is typically down. The weather is cold and snowy, which makes for less than ideal traveling conditions. The volume begins to pick up in March as spring approaches. During peak produce seasons, which are April, May, June, and July, the weather is warmer, allowing fruits and vegetables to start growing. Produce such as strawberries, squash, chili peppers, limes, grapes, corn, watermelons, and cucumbers begin to grow and are transported all over the world. During this time, finding transportation can become more challenging due to the increase in goods, which in turn causes shipping rates to increase.
Produce season comes to an end in August, September, and October as shippers start to prepare for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. The holiday season is bustling during November and December, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all taking place. Shippers rush to transport goods before the holiday rush, and then… the cycle repeats!
Severe Weather Conditions. Oh no!
Managing the movement of goods from boats to trucks to trains can be extremely tricky, especially when severe weather conditions can cause significant delays and increased costs. Whether it be hurricanes, snowstorms, floods, or just typical heavy rain, all of these conditions can cause delays in transportation. Being cognizant of inclement weather in advance can be helpful for supplies to get to their destinations quickly and efficiently.
Container Shipping: Most cargo ships can withstand extreme weather conditions without altering their schedule, but this is not always the case when extreme storms such as hurricanes and cyclones hit. When cargo ships are not able to sail, they tend to increase speed or take a longer route to divert from the storm’s path. Because of this, ships run out of fuel faster, causing a financial burden on the company shipping the cargo.
Port Operations: Port operations can also be affected by extreme weather. High winds are a main cause of port operators having to suspend crane operations due to safety concerns. A strong wind can cause the crane operator to lose control of cargo, eventually damaging boats, equipment, or other structures.
Railroads: Severe weather can also lead to dangerous conditions for rail transportation. Some examples are rain or fog, which can lead to decreased visibility of signals to locomotive engineers, floods leading to washout of tracks, and even extreme cold causing brittle tracks and track separation.
Although the changing of seasons could bring less than ideal conditions, weather intelligence is extremely helpful when determining logistics for transportation. Weather intelligence uses data that proactively adapts to the incoming weather conditions. It provides insights into the weather today, tomorrow, and weeks in the future!