Transloading: Cracking the Code of Efficient Freight Management

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For many shippers, transloading has become a critical link to connect their international and domestic supply chains. Transloading, the process of transferring freight from one mode of transportation to another, helps to reduce costs while increasing inventory flow and supply chain flexibility.

When goods arrive at a transload facility, they are unloaded from their international shipping containers, inspected for damage, sorted to their outbound destination, and loaded onto domestic trailers or containers for distribution throughout the domestic supply chain. Containers are typically offloaded within 48 hours of hitting the yard, streamlining the operation and avoiding bottlenecks. 

Cost Efficiency

Transloading enables shippers to optimize transport costs per unit by strategically consolidating export freight or de-consolidating import freight through these facilities. In many cases, 20’ and 40’ ocean containers are consolidated into 53’ trailers and/or intermodal containers. Through this consolidation, transportation costs can be reduced by over 30% compared to directly moving containers further inland via long-haul container transportation. The transfer of equipment at these facilities helps to mitigate the risk of incurring demurrage or per diem fees on shipping containers by keeping steamship line equipment near ports by quickly emptying and returning the equipment. 

Transloading also presents an opportunity to simultaneously benefit from a series of added-value services, such as palletizing, labeling, shrink wrapping, and bracing products before goods are sent to their next destination, which pulls labor-intensive services further upstream and reduces the burden on shipper’s distribution networks.

Inventory Management 

Shippers constantly pursue unique strategies to enhance inventory management and quickly reach customers. Transloading enables shippers to efficiently distribute inventory across their supply chain. Inventory is bought in bulk from overseas and then deconsolidated for mixed-SKU full-truckload deliveries to their next destinations. Without a transload solution, mixed-SKU containers would need to be built overseas, or importers would need to make multi-stop less-than-containerload (LCL) deliveries to their destinations to properly place inventory. In some cases, shippers may take a full load of inventory to one place and be forced to do domestic stock transfers to reallocate properly.

Shippers can also delay inventory distribution center (DC) allocation until the freight is near arrival at the port, which allows near real-time reaction of inventory shifting to match regional demand, helping shippers reduce holding costs, minimize stockouts, and enhance overall inventory control. 

Geographic Network Expansion 

Many shippers invest in transload solutions alongside the ports where they import the most volume. Common facility locations include the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/New Jersey, Norfolk, Houston, Seattle, and Savannah. Adding a location near the ports allows shippers to disperse inventory quickly. With the addition of a transload facility,  goods can reach a broader array of destinations more quickly. This enables shippers to effectively respond to shifting market demands, gain a competitive advantage, and extend market reach to foster growth.

As a leader in port solutions, NFI continues to expand its transload network, recently expanding in both the Savannah, Houston, and Norfolk markets with new state-of-the-art facilities outfitted with cutting-edge technology and automation to provide visibility and optimize productivity to deliver superior service. For more information on our transload capabilities, visit https://www.nfiindustries.com/solutions/port-services/transload/