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What is the difference between intermodal and multimodal transportation?

If you are needing to ship products quickly and efficiently, you may need to choose between intermodal transportation and multimodal transportation in order to obtain the best cost or the needed transit time. What are the differences, and when should you choose which option? Learn more below!

What is intermodal transportation in shipping?

Intermodal transportation is the movement of cargo using several different carriers. For example, you may be moving your shipment via truck and then by air, with each leg handled by a different provider responsible for getting the cargo from one place to another. If you have multiple carriers contracted independently to complete your shipment, you are using intermodal transportation.

What is multimodal transportation in shipping?

Multimodal transportation is the movement of cargo using several modes of transport but all under the same carrier. When you use the same carrier to complete the entire shipment journey using several modes of transport, that is multimodal transportation.

Why choose intermodal transportation?

If you choose intermodal transportation, you will enjoy several advantages, including:

  • You can select individual carriers for each leg of the shipment based on price or service, which could get you a better price point overall.
  • You can stop the shipment at any point along its route for any reason.
  • You have more flexibility in choosing your carriers if you have space or equipment issues.

You should consider inventory turns, total cost, and the amount of time to complete the shipment when you are looking at intermodal transportation options.

Why choose multimodal transportation?

Multimodal transportation also has its advantages you should consider. A few examples include:

  • You only have one carrier who is liable for the movement of your shipment, so you know exactly who to call if something goes wrong.
  • To track your shipment, you only have to contact one company instead of multiple carriers.
  • Only one carrier is responsible for meeting the delivery requirements of your shipment, adding an extra layer of accountability.

If you are interested in multimodal transportation, you will want to consider the paperwork, the time it will take to complete the delivery, the total cost, and the circumstances of the contract.

Why a 3PL is best suited for intermodal or multimodal shipping

If you are unfamiliar with these transportation options, you can rely on an experienced third- party logistics (3PL) provider like Unishippers to help you. At Unishippers, we have an unparalleled level of experience handling third-party logistics, including intermodal transportation and multimodal transportation. We offer an advanced transportation management system that you can use to compare pricing, delivery times and more quickly that is supported by a team of shipping experts to help guide you when needed. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact us today. It would be our honor to assist you.