The classic definition of transloading is: “the transferring goods from one mode of transportation to another in order to have the goods reach their final destination. Transloading is used when it is not physically possible or is not economically efficient to transport goods to a final destination using only one method of transit. Companies that ship their goods internationally are likely to use multiple methods of transport, especially if both the shipping point and the destination are located inland.”
Transloading generally offers a cost-effective way to bring imported product in ocean containers to inland distribution centers or directly to the customer. As a rule of thumb, the contents of 3-40' ocean containers will fit into 2-53' domestic trailers or containers. By transloading cargo without sorting the contents for individual shipments to various destinations, transloading services can reduce total landed costs, and when combined with value added services such as palletizing and shrink wrapping, reduce the overall handling at the destination DC for delivery beyond. Just to be clear, transloading is not always a magic bullet that will reduce inland or landed costs, as such, there are several factors that must be weighed prior to making transloading a permanent part of your Logistics Continuum.
As a general rule, the cargo in 3-40' ocean containers will typically fit into 2-53' domestic trailers or containers.
Make certain that you have analyzed the additional handling and that the cost savings on the transportation side outweighs this.
Does it make sense to palletize the product (typically import cargo is floor loaded) which not only will make distribution easier on the back end, but will also improve the loading and unloading of the 53' trailers and containers at destination?
Also consider the transit time that is required. Transloading will usually add at least 1 to 3 days to delivery.
Ensure that Customs clears at the port, which will offer enhanced flexibility in handling the cargo and can eliminate the expense of moving the cargo in bond.
Analyze whether or not transloading of the product can successfully by-pass the normal DC and be delivered direct to the customer. This can almost be a trifecta if it can be done, as it reduces DC handling, improves time in transit and will trim supply chain costs.
And finally, set up transloading programs well in advance, and include and involve your supply chain partners in the coordination and execution of your vision.