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8 Types of Cargo Shipped in Intermodal Containers

If you ship cargo and manage unpowered assets, you may be wondering at any given time, “Where in the world is my intermodal container?” Even frequently shipped cargo can get lost or sit idle, and with the North American intermodal market valued at $40 billion, there’s plenty of incentive for thieves to target your goods. No matter how you’re transporting intermodal containers, asset tracking technology can help you keep close tabs on your company’s commonly shipped cargo and unpowered assets so that they return for reuse.

In this article, we’ll discuss best practices for tracking commonly shipped cargo in your intermodal supply chain.

Common Types of Intermodal Container Cargo

In “The Practice and Regulations of Container Intermodal Transport,”  Pro. Zhigang Yang lists the most commonly shipped cargo items transported by intermodal containers:

  1. Non-perishable cargo, like manufactured goods in dry freight containers
  2. Cargo that’s perishable or needs to be temperature controlled in insulated containers
  3. Perishable, chilled, and frozen cargo, like agricultural products or seafood in refrigerated containers (reefers)
  4. Bulk dry powders, raw materials like coal, and granular substances like grains in bulk containers
  5. Non-perishable cargo that could be damaged in transport by condensation, like coffee and cocoa, shipped in ventilated containers
  6. Oversized cargo like building materials, vehicles, indivisible loads, lumber, machinery, and construction equipment, carried in flat rack containers and platform flats
  7. Oversized cargo or large, awkwardly shaped items that cannot fit in a dry freight container, shipped in open top containers
  8. Bulk hazardous or nonhazardous chemicals, oils, liquids, and food goods, shipped in tank containers

Along with commonly shipped cargo, the specialized, reusable intermodal containers you use to carry your cargo are expensive to replace.

Why You Need to Track Your Intermodal Container Cargo

Intermodal containers have a 10-to-15-year lifespan and spend 56% of that time idle or empty while being repositioned, according to The Geography of Transport Systems. Whether you own or rent a container, this part of the shipping process is likely costing you a significant amount of money. And if you lose track of those intermodal containers, you’re looking at even deeper losses.

Modern asset tracking technology provides direct alerts to your phone or computer, letting you know where your shipments are in real-time. Using this technology, you can:

  • Get in-transit cargo visibility. Know where your assets are at all times. Tracking your intermodal container and its cargo can help prevent costly theft, loss of assets, and unnecessary transport costs when a container loses its way.
  • Ensure proper utilization of unpowered assets. Empty shipping containers aren’t making you any money. Use all of your intermodal containers as efficiently as possible to help make business run more smoothly. Tracking intermodal containers can help you route them back to be refilled with more cargo.

Avoid Cargo Tracking Difficulty with GPS Asset Tracking Devices

You can avoid the most common intermodal container transportation issues using solar-powered GPS asset tracking tags, which provide on-demand reports about:

  • Departure, idle, and arrival times
  • Mileage
  • Location
  • Security alerts
  • Loaded or unloaded status (via cargo sensor)
  • Whether the door is open or closed (via door sensor)

No matter what you’re shipping, track it! Get a bird’s eye view of your unpowered assets with the SkyBitz Falcon GXT5002C. Learn more about the SkyBitz solar-powered asset tracking device or request your demo!

Published on January 17, 2018

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