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Axle to Axle: Q&A

Intermodal experts discuss how to shave costs by sharing loads


Let’s talk about labor.  What concerns you more: port strikes, driver shortages, hours of service restrictions, or a lack of college graduates interested or qualified to fill logistics openings?   


Sanford: For us, it would be the truck driver shortage.  Although we ride the rail for the majority of the line haul, we still rely on drivers to pick up and deliver the freight once the trailer has been taken off the train.  The local pickup and delivery pool of drivers is shrinking just as the over-the-road pool is. 

McKenna: A possible port strike has the most direct and immediate impact on our operations and our customers. Intermodal shipping actually becomes more appealing given the threat of driver shortages and tightening hours of service restrictions. 


What new technology or product do you think has the most potential for the transportation or logistics industry? 


Gowdy: Global positioning system (GPS) technology, paired with live temperature monitoring, continues to be brought up in many conversations and is a part of C.H. Robinson’s customizedtransportation solutions. 

Sanford: The onboard computer in the driver’s cab. This allows for better communication between the driver and dispatcher.  Information can be communicated quicker and to websites, eliminating phone calls and potential errors. 

McKenna: The proliferation of smartphones and apps has the most potential for our industry. Smartphones will likely lead to greater ease of communication with drayage drivers, leading to better tracking of trucks and shipments. This will allow us to provide more real-time information to our customers at origin and destination.

Concluding Thoughts

Despite the many obstacles in getting fresh produce from field to fork, innovative thinking is what keeps carriers moving day in and day out—from new service lanes and optimized loading strategies
to high-tech tracking and earth-friendly equipment.   

Perhaps the key to strengthening the transportation industry, while alleviating undue pressure from tighter federal regulations and driver shortages, is sharing the load. 

With recent service improvements and increased rail access, intermodal shipping appears well positioned to deliver for the fresh produce industry.  


Taryn Pfalzgraf is the editor of Blueprints journal and an award-winning author, writer, and consultant.