The global movement of ideas, people and goods has grown exponentially! United States exports continue to increase, however we must recognize both sides of the global trade equation as many U.S. companies rely on foreign imports to compete globally. Imported components continue to be critical to American-made finished goods, impacting coastal ports with increased volume and traffic.
Many of these coastal ports may soon be strained to their capacity limits as shipments increase; more ships will arrive with more containers, especially with the 2014 completion of the Panama Canal (as stated in an earlier PIERS blog). Swelling container volumes may create problems as goods seek to reach their final destinations. Many seaports have plans for major infrastructure improvements but congestion will still present challenges to timely, cost-effective distribution of inbound containerized shipments to noncoastal retailers, manufacturers and ultimately consumers.
What is the solution?
Transfer inbound cargo directly from the ocean vessel to railcars, or transport to an inland port and distribute from there. Inland ports, and intermodal distribution centers, are designed to move international shipments more efficiently from coastal ports for distribution throughout the U.S. heartland. This offers a myriad benefits to shippers, given their connectivity to major seaports, which helps U.S. manufacturers and retailers via cost-effective import distribution. With increased transportation costs, supply chain professionals are all about moving freight in a more cost-effective manner.
Bringing goods from coastal ports closer to the customer provides cost advantages in the form of lower labor, real estate rates and emission reduction. Supply chain efficiency will also improve as inland ports reduce congestion and move goods closer to inland population centers through a more cost-effective mode of transportation.
While there are currently a limited number of U.S.-based inland ports, there is potential for more to enter the market as the Panama Canal expansion nears completion date. U.S. intermodal is on the rise; for the first 28 weeks of 2012 intermodal traffic rose 3.6%, carload traffic fell 2.6% in the same period as reported by the JOC last month.
To learn more about how your company’s supply chain can benefit from utilizing inland ports register for the JOC’s Inland Port Logistics Conference September 5-6.
PIERS can deliver the intelligence that you need! We have several solutions to assist in analyzing the global supply chain and understand the movement of goods. Contact us today to have a PIERS Data Solutions Expert contact you to provide more information or schedule a product demonstration.