A win for all

Sept. 9, 2014
Customers, drivers benefit from service expansion

The response to Schneider’s bulk intermodal service by chemical shippers since its launch has been overwhelming. In just the first six months of 2014, load volumes increased 75%.  George Grossardt, senior vice president and general manager of Schneider’s bulk division, says the company is already planning to double the size of its bulk intermodal fleet and to expand its service coverage to all of North America.

“The sharp rise in demand for this service can be attributed to the benefits it provides chemical shippers,” Grossardt says. “By eliminating any transloading and by streamlining border crossings, we are able to move shipments in days instead of weeks, addressing the growing concern of having reliable capacity. The combination of trucking and rail service is very effective for customers because it gives them a largely unconstrained, long-haul liquid bulk capacity option.”

Grossardt also notes that  some shippers were concerned that conversion from truckload to intermodal would result in service delays, but this is proving to be unfounded. “Our network of 14 strategically located intermodal ramps, consistent rail schedules, and alliances with five of the major rail companies serving North America allows for most shipments to reliably arrive within 24 hours of the time it would take for the load to move over the road,” he states. “Truckload plus one day is very doable for most chemical shippers.”

Schneider’s bulk intermodal service is also a winning proposition in the ongoing race to attract and retain drivers. “As the driver market continues to tighten, chemical companies that move loads on the rails with Schneider bulk intermodal free up drivers for other loads,” Grossardt says. “For Schneider drivers, hauling loads from intermodal ramps means being home much more frequently. That leads to less driver turnover and makes it easier to recruit drivers who don’t want to be away for weeks at a time.”

Widespread benefits

Grossardt points out other benefits that are accruing for Schneider. Operating fewer over-the-road miles, for example, means safety is enhanced. Additionally, handling pickups and deliveries with the same drivers improves customer service and breeds familiarity, also driving a more positive safety scenario.

Schneider’s bulk intermodal service uses 40-ft. single compartment tank trailers manufactured by CIMC Tank Equipment Co. The tanks are fitted with frames on each end that allow them to be stacked on rail cars. The tanks are pulled by day cab tractors on the road using Hyundai chassis. Loaded units, at 11 ft., 5 in. high, can haul close to 48,000 lbs. of payload, which Grossardt notes allows customers to load 5% to 6% more product than in a traditional over-the-road truckload move.

Looking ahead over the course of the next year, Schneider plans to expand the capacity and reach of its offering by adding tractors to its fleet along with additional intermodal loading ramps to accommodate shippers’ needs and serve even more markets.

Schneider, headquartered in Green Bay, WI, fields 9,700 tractors, more than 30,000 trailers, and over 14,000 intermodal containers. Its operations cover 7.6 million road miles and 2.5 million rail miles per day across North America.

“Schneider bulk intermodal complements the truckload, regional, long haul, expedited, dedicated, bulk, and van intermodal services the company as a whole offers,” Grossardt says. “Our sister van intermodal operation is one of the top three companies in that market and is also growing. Today, shippers that have come to count on Schneider for creative solutions can rely on us to meet their needs for long-haul bulk chemical shipments.”

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