Transloading is a procedure in which a shipment of goods is transferred from one mode of transportation to another; i.e., from truck to railroad car, from ship to railroad car, from truck to ship, from aircraft to truck, or vice versa.
It is most frequently used when more than one form of transportation is required to move a load of cargo from its point of origin to its final destination. For example, a shipment of finished goods from an inland factory in North America might be taken by truck to an airport and loaded onto an airplane, then shipped as air cargo to an airport in Asia where that cargo is again loaded onto a truck and delivered to its final destination and received by the customer who ordered it.
Another example of transloading might involve the movement of bulk materials like iron ore, coal or even grain. In the case of iron ore, it might be loaded onto rail cars at the mine, shipped overland by rail to a deep-water ocean port on the coast, then transferred to ship for delivery to an international customer on another continent. This process is also required at railroad break of gauge points where equipment is not compatible between different railroad lines using different gauge railroad track.
In North America, standard gauge railroad tracks are the norm in the United States (where board and narrow gauge tracks where for the most part phased out in the late 19th and early 20th century), as well as Canada and Mexico. Only a handful of isolated narrow-gauge rail systems continue to operate. Elsewhere in the world, break of gauge points remain much more commonplace.
These types of cargo transfers require additional handling of the goods as they are unloaded and reloaded which increases costs as well as increases the potential of damage. To improve speed and efficiency of the transfers, specialized equipment and in some cases specialized facilities are often utilized.
Examples of specialized facilities used in transloading can include grain elevators, oil terminals and coal piers. Examples of specialized equipment at intermodal facilities to improve the speed and efficiency of transloading while minimizing the number of workers required can include specialized container cranes for handling containerized goods, railroad dumper cars, loaders, conveyors, autorack railroad cars and even roll-on roll-off cargo ships which can be loaded and unloaded without cranes or other equipment.
As a third-party logistics provider, FW Warehousing provides central location and expertise, which makes for an ideal partner for rail transloading needs in the Midwest. In conjunction with the sister company FW Trucking, FW can pick up and move cargo to the warehouse distribution centers for: container loading and unloading, bulk transfer, bulk container transloading, rail Super Sak transloading, slipsheet transloading. FW has freight rail connections with UP/BNSF, CN, UP, BNFS and NS/CSX and can provide integrated rail logistics to all U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas and New York.
In addition, FW’s powerful warehouse management system (WMS) can allow you to track your rail shipments (even international rail shipments) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
For more information about FW Warehousing’s transloading capabilities, visit the Rail Transloading page of the FW Warehousing web site.