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The Value of Mixing Modes

September 25, 2019

Creativity is a virtue that can go a long way in today’s logistics climate. A savvy shipping process that involves multiple modes of transportation may help your company cut costs and deliver effectively.

Of course, various factors such as schedule, destination, load size and cargo type dictate which shipping solution best fits your needs. In order to optimize your transportation network, it’s important to evaluate different shipping combinations and thoroughly analyze the network to give flexibility in competitive lanes. 

Let’s look at two primary forms of domestic shipping: rail and over-the-road (OTR). 


Shipping freight via rail gives customers a cost-effective solution to move any cargo that can be loaded into a truck or container. Rail has the capability to carry more freight at the same time and is an excellent option for long-distance hauls. Since trains have more space, heavy transfers can be executed at a much lower price. With competitive rates and the best efficiency to scale, this solution provides unique features that other modes cannot. Not to mention, rails are environmentally friendly as they emit less CO2 per-ton per mile and consume less energy on a per-load basis across all freight transfers.

While intermodal is an excellent option for efficient shipping, further savings can be achieved. Combining this solution with another form of transportation could be the solution your supply chain needs to optimize the shipping process in your network. 


Moving freight on a truck provides appealing flexibility. Oftentimes, this feature alone surmounts all other modes when shippers need to act quickly and efficiently. Routes and schedules can often be amended with few problems arising so product can be sent promptly, enhancing retail delivery performance and reducing chargebacks. This option can also help cut costs as cartage, loading and unloading expenses are reduced thanks to a seamless door-to-door delivery. 

Working with a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider that can optimize both methods of transportation may be the solution your supply chain needs. The combination of Hub Group’s truckload and intermodal solutions is a key solution for customers. Our fleet of 38,000 GPS-enabled containers combined with state-of-the-art technology gives full end-to-end visibility with ETA functionality that’s fueled by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Hub Group’s intermodal solution is supported by one of the world’s largest drayage networks, giving customers an unmatched intermodal option. Couple this with our CaseStack Retail Supplier Solutions that optimize each truckload to meet retailer requirements at competitive rates, and you have a solution that is second to none. 

Embracing this sort of creative transportation process can help your supply chain effectively deliver across a complex network and cut major costs. Visit for more information on how these services can help your shipping process.