IRPT Annual Conference - April 24-26, 2018 - Cincinnati, Ohio

Container on Barge

The primary focus of our inland river ports is to grow our economies by providing an access point for multimodal transportation (river, rail and road).

Driving economic development through the advantage of river, rail and road, is the strong regional collaboration for freight transportation and sound partnerships with service providers through all aspects of the supply chain.

It is through that collaboration, that we can identify areas of opportunities, such as container on barge. Further, with sound partnerships between service providers, is when public and private benefits can be measured.

It is important to note: I am not suggesting an “if you build it, they will come project”. Market analysis, collaborating with your chambers of commerce, manufacturer’s associations and simply knowing your neighbors can serve to identify opportunities. Do your research to identify origination and destination points and work with your service providers to build an all-inclusive transportation package to fit the needs of your potential customer.

It’s usually at that time, when the project team will identify and infrastructure gaps needed to perform services. Using container on barge as an example, it may be that one point or event multiple points along your project route may be deficient in the equipment needed.

Of course, that’s were capital costs enter the equation and subsequently, where the DOT can help create opportunities and in turn, drive your market forces.

Moving containers by barge and offering an all-inclusive per container price incorporates many service providers including:

  • Origination port
  • Origination terminal
  • Intermodal Service provider (rail or truck)
  • Container supplier
  • Barge line
  • Destination port
  • Destination terminal
  • Intermodal service provider
  • Most importantly – THE SHIPPER

Form your teams of interested servicers early. The last thing you need is a service provider who may not believe in your project to throw you a curve ball and halt the progression of the project.

Have your team members involved in the discussions early on, but please know this: The shipper will usually want to work with one point of contact for the entire door-to-door package. Because COB incorporates so many pieces, it’s important you aren’t creating more work for the shipper, in turn causing them to revert back to the “more comfortable way” they have been doing business. Identify your team lead as the one point of contact for the shipper.

Shippers are, in some cases, looking for alternatives to their supply chain with comparable pricing. Offering COB as an alternative generates competition and may lower costs on other modes. Have this conversation with your potential shipper so they too are aware of additional benefits.

As always, regional collaboration is essential. Marketing efforts can be directed to:

  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Council of Supply Chain Logistics Professionals
  • Manufacturing Associations
  • Freight Forwarders
  • State and Regional Transportation Planners