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Leveraging Logistics Blog

InTek Freight and Logistics Blog

InTek Freight and Logistics is where companies come when faced with a freight and logistics problem within their supply chain.

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Truckload | Intermodal Transportation

Intermodal Spot Rate Pricing Trendline Analysis

By: Rick LaGore
September 20th, 2022

Weekly discussion and analysis on the trends in the intermodal spot rate market. For the week of September 19, 2022, domestic intermodal spot rate index: Decreased 1.8% from the prior week. Decreased 24.9% from prior year.

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Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

Tentative Agreement Averts Railroad Strike - What's Next

By: Kevin Baxter
September 15th, 2022

While much of the country slept, the two largest unions representing rail workers and Class I railroads reached a tentative agreement for a new contract in the early morning hours the day before a strike could have begun. Negotiators from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET) and Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division, along with the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen reached the agreement with the National Carriers Conference Committee following about 20 hours straight of in-person talks at the offices of Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in Washington. During the negotiating session, President Biden reportedly spoke to those at the table urging an agreement to avert a shutdown of the nation's railroads that could've begun Sept. 16 - warning of the damage it would cause the broader economy. That damage, according to the AAR, would've been upwards of $2 billion a day - with about one-third of all domestic freight and thousands of  daily passengers suddenly looking for alternatives to rail. The tentative agreement reportedly follows the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250 when it comes to compensation, with a 22% nominal and 24% compounded total salary increase, five $1,000 bonuses for service recognition and one additional paid day off. The hang-up in negotiations continued to involve quality of life issues raised by unions, including overtime, on-call and other scheduling concerns which were not addressed by the PEB. The railroads wanted to stick to the Board recommendations, but sometime overnight the NCCC reportedly budged from that position, paving the way for a deal. A joint union statement indicates the tentative agreement exempts “time off for certain medical events" including routine and preventative medical care, hospitalizations and surgical procedures - something the unions say had never been a part of previous contracts. The unions also indicate the deal includes provisions that will create voluntary assigned days off for members working in thru freight service, and all members will receive one additional paid day off. And the other sticking point - healthcare costs - is addressed with a freeze on members' monthly health care contributions at the end of the agreement while negotiations for the next one take place. While the other unions that had previously reached tentative agreements that basically reflected PEB recommendations without these additional provisions, all will benefit from this deal's terms as well under "me too" clauses. President Biden praised the deal, saying "These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned. The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come."

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The Ins & Outs of Intermodal Transportation.

The Ins & Outs of Intermodal Transportation.

Everything you need to know about domestic intermodal and how to be successful implementing it into your logistics strategy. Gives tips, tricks and insights on intermodal and what to watch out for when converting from truckload to intermodal.

Blog Feature

Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

Railroad Strike Status & Supply Chain Updates - September

By: Kevin Baxter
September 12th, 2022

With Labor Day already a week in the past, the status of supply chains hinges not only on how much demand to associate with peak season, but also on whether a railroad strike stops intermodal freight in its tracks. Let's start first with the story we've been tracking regularly as negotiations between unions representing railroad workers and the Class I railroads have gone through numerous twists and turns - especially in recent months. As of this writing, we are just four days from a Sept. 16th end of the mandatory cooling off period enacted when President Biden appointed a Presidential Emergency Board to assess negotiations between the two sides, and still the two largest unions representing between 70 and 100,000 employees (the engineers and conductors) have no agreement. Indications from leadership suggest a strike is the next step, as they feel working conditions and attendance policies - including specifically an on-call provision- are a non-starter, even with seemingly general agreement on raises and salary structure. The PEB recommendations steered clear of working conditions and work-life balance issues, suggesting those be left for separate local arbitration . If a strike - or any work stoppage for that matter - were to occur, Congress would legally be able to step in to take action if members could agree what that action should look like. Theoretically, they could extend the cooling off period, order all sides to mediation or even order all sides accept a new deal with terms of Congress' choosing. However, the "if members could agree" is the rub in a particularly partisan environment. Democrats who control both chambers - and are routinely seen as pro-union - are being urged by labor leaders to sit this one out. But with a looming mid-term election, they'd also rather not see voters' attention turn to back to supply chain concerns resulting from railroad shutdowns. On the other side, Republicans may be just fine with a change in narrative for voters as other issues currently front-of-mind have been less favorable to their election prospects. The railroads for their part, seem inclined to have Congress enforce an agreement based on the PEB recommendations, which have already led to tentative contracts with multiple unions (though the work-life balance issues would fall under the policies agreed to with the two largest unions in a "Me too" arrangement). In other words, absent a voluntary agreement between these unions and the railroads to either extend the cooling off period themselves or reach a long-term deal, what happens on September 16 and beyond is anyone's guess.

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Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

The Railroad-Related Origins of Labor Day, Plus a Rail Labor Update

By: Kevin Baxter
September 2nd, 2022

Labor Day is a major U.S. holiday that marks the unofficial end of Summer, but while the word "labor" in its name is a bit of a giveaway as to why it exists, its specific origins are a mystery to many. In fact, even historians disagree on some aspects of Labor Day's background, but one major piece of the puzzle traces to a railroad strike in the late 1800s. The Pullman Railway Strike of 1894 saw a quarter million railroad workers take to the picket lines over the course of a few months that year, in a protest related to wage cuts by the Pullman Palace Car Company which left its workers making too little to pay the rent in Pullman, Illinois - the company town. On top of the low wages, workers also expressed concerns about workdays upwards of 16 hours and generally poor conditions - both on the job and at home - as well as the firing of union representation. The strike was a coordinated effort between the Pullman workers and the American Railway Union - which called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars by its members. The boycott essentially stopped many rail lines west of Chicago in their tracks, stranding passengers and cargo with ripple effects to product shortages, consumer price hikes and factory shutdowns. A couple of months after the strike began, the government under President Grover Cleveland secured a federal injunction and sent in troops to enforce it. And during demonstrations, clashes between troops and strikers led to up to 30 deaths and many more injuries. As a small gesture by the government toward American workers who were upset by this and generally rough conditions related to the Industrial Revolution, Congress passed and Cleveland signed a bill making Labor Day a national holiday. So while the origins of Labor Day technically date more than a decade earlier in New York, with many states adopting it as a holiday in the interim, the railroad strike is credited with the day's recognition at the federal level as a tribute to all American workers.   As the countdown to a potential strike date continues, three of 12 labor unions have reportedly agreed to terms with Class I railroads on a new contract. While the agreement means disruptions will be avoided in areas where those union workers staff railroads, it still leaves three quarters of unions in ongoing negotiations with the date of an allowable work stoppage looming in mid-September. Focusing on the deal that has been reached, the three unions represent about 15,000 railroad workers - members of the International Association of Machinists, the Transportation Communications Union and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen and making up the International Association of Machinists Rail Division. It's a five year agreement with the NCCC (the Class I railroads) which covers the previous two years and the next three. In essence, the agreement follows the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250, with a 22% nominal and 24% compounded total salary increase, five $1,000 bonuses for service recognition and one additional paid day off.

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Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

Three Unions Agree to Railroad Labor Deal, Others Still Negotiating

By: Kevin Baxter
August 30th, 2022

As the countdown to a potential strike date continues, three of 12 labor unions have reportedly agreed to terms with Class I railroads on a new contract. While the agreement means disruptions will be avoided in areas where those union workers staff railroads, it still leaves three quarters of unions in ongoing negotiations with the date of an allowable work stoppage looming in mid-September. Focusing on the deal that has been reached, the three unions represent about 15,000 railroad workers - members of the International Association of Machinists, the Transportation Communications Union and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen and making up the International Association of Machinists Rail Division. It's a five year agreement with the NCCC (the Class I railroads) which covers the previous two years and the next three. In essence, the agreement follows the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250, with a 22% nominal and 24% compounded total salary increase, five $1,000 bonuses for service recognition and one additional paid day off.

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Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

What Is Reefer Intermodal?

By: Kevin Baxter
August 25th, 2022

As warm temperatures continue across the U.S. with summer still going strong, shippers are finding more products require temperature-controlled shipping options to arrive intact. And while the first temp-controlled thought tends to be truckload, reefer intermodal is an option to consider as well. Reefer intermodal refers to the transport of refrigerated containers and/or trailers via a combination of railroad for the long-haul and truck for the first and/or last mile. Reefer is a common term in freight shipping, referring to just about anything temperature-controlled. After all, it's short for refrigerated. But the first thought many shippers have when they hear "reefer" is a truck. While there are plenty of reasons to ship temperature-controlled freight via truck, those who don't consider reefer intermodal are missing out on significant capacity opportunities, both using the same refrigerated trailers trucks carry, and using refrigerated intermodal containers. 

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Truckload | Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

The Key Role of Drayage Trucking in Intermodal

By: Kevin Baxter
August 22nd, 2022

While most imagery associated with intermodal freight rightly centers on the railroad, without drayage trucking, loads using this shipping mode would oftentimes be stuck at the ramp. Drayage trucking is the link between the origin and destination of intermodal containers. The railroad takes cargo the bulk of the intermodal journey, but to physically pick up and deliver products from factories, distribution centers, retailers and wherever else, drayage trucking does the first mile/final mile job. Let's back up a bit to explain why. .Intermodal transport refers to the movement of goods between multiple modes - with the distinction that once cargo is packed into a container, it stays in the same one until it arrives at its final destination. Those multiple modes tend to follow a common formula: truck - rail - truck, with drayage trucking equipped with specialized chassis used to bring the load the short haul distance - optimized at 50 miles or less - from its origin to a rail ramp, aka the first mile. Then, the long haul journey - optimized at 700 miles or more - takes place on a freight train before another specialized drayage truck picks the container up from the ramp to take it the rest of the way to its destination, aka the final mile.

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Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

Railroad Labor Negotiation Update

By: Kevin Baxter
August 17th, 2022

Railroad labor negotiations have taken another turn, as Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250 - established by President Biden - yesterday released its recommendations. The key number recommended in the report by the PEB is 22%, as in a nominal wage increase of 22% over five years. This splits the difference between the reported union proposal of 28% and the Class I Railroads' reported offer of 16%. Keep in mind, any salary increase for the approximately 140,000 union rail workers across the country covers the period between January 2020 and December 2024, so it includes raises paid retroactively for those past two-plus years since the last contract ended.  We first discussed the implications of a potential railroad strike last month, and a couple weeks later went over when it could occur. For a brief refresher, if rail labor came to a standstill - even briefly - it would be less than ideal for freight movement heading into peak and holiday shipping season. The first potential strike date is about a month from now, as both sides get 30 days to come together on an agreement after the PEB report release. Let's breakdown a bit more from the recommendations and the reactions to them.

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Truckload | Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain | Freight Broker | Managed TMS | Transportation Management System | Logistics Service Provider

InTek Freight & Logistics Ranks No. 1541 on 2022 Inc. 5000 Annual List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies

By: Kevin Baxter
August 16th, 2022

Today, Inc. Magazine revealed that InTek Freight & Logistics is No. 1541 on its annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. “We’re incredibly honored to be a part of the Inc. 5000 this year,” said Rick LaGore, InTek CEO. “The tremendous growth we’ve experienced is a testament to our excellent team and the many wonderful partners we work with both in Indiana and across the country.”

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Intermodal Transportation | Logistics & Supply Chain

Why to Consider Transloading vs. Traditional Intermodal

By: Kevin Baxter
August 12th, 2022

Looking at Google searches, a common question in freight and logistics is "What is transloading vs. intermodal?" The question shows many are confused about the distinction between the two, and rightfully so. Both typically associate with the movement of freight between truckload and railroad - and sometimes steamship as well. But there's one key distinction. In traditional intermodal transport, the load never leaves its original container. As in, the shipper packs a container and it goes across two or three modes all in that same container from origin until it reaches its destination. In transloading, goods may travel the exact same route across two or three modes again, but they'll be unpacked from an original container to either another container or a trailer, depending on how they travel and capacity. Transloading is associated with intermodal because there's very often a rail component to the journey of transloaded freight. But why go over this distinction now you might ask. Because with a still challenged container and chassis environment, transloading could be many shippers' best option to keep freight moving.

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