Intermodal Transportation Key Terms
A good grounding in intermodal transportation key terms will go a long wayThe world of intermodal transport is filled with specialized words. In the past, shipping cargo involved several separate industries, all dependent on the method used for shipping. When modalism (the idea that shipping was a single industry and the different modes were just facets) came on the scene, there was an industry wide attempt to bring their various terms together into a single intermodal shipping vocabulary.
Understanding some of the basic intermodal services terms will help you move into this fast-paced industry with more confidence and knowledge. These terms will also assist you in making informed decisions about your products and the methods used to move them. Consider the following when learning about intermodal transportation services terminology:
1. There are several different abbreviations and terms to describe the amount and type of goods being shipped.
2. Cargo containers have specialized terms used to describe their design and use.
3. Intermodal transport vehicles have their own specialized terminology.
Learn the terms for transporting via intermodal carrier
Find out about containers used for multiple modes of transportationThe shipping container is probably the most important part of intermodal shipping. The basic reference container is 20 feet long, 8.6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. This is called a 20-foot equivalent unit (or TEU) and is the basis for logistical planning. Contrary to the reference model, the most common shipping container currently is 40 feet long and is 2 TEU in size. When a shipping container is stacked on top of another container for transport or storage, it's called double stacking (or triple stacking, and so on).
Discover the terms used by intermodal shipping companiesThe simplest terms used in intermodal transport refer to the methods used to ship the cargo itself: overland, overrail and waterborne. These terms are the most common and describe trucks, trains and boats. Intermodal shipping containers are shipped by truck using box trailers or flatbeds. When the actual container doubles as the storage area on the truck it is called piggybacking.
Maritime Administration and the Intermodal Association of North America maintain very nice glossaries of intermodal transportation key terms.
- The key to learning the definitions of the intermodal transportation service is remembering that the industry was, at one point, several distinct industries. As time goes on, they attempt to bring in more common terminology, but there are still some rather odd terms that only apply to a certain area in a certain way.
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