Refrigerated Intermodal Shipping: A High-Tech, Money-Saving, Up-and-Coming Alternative

Shipping temperature-controlled freight can be a very nervewracking experience. Whether you're shipping ice cream that could disastrously melt, or beer that might freeze in transit, the risks are higher than a regular truckload shipment because your product is more vulnerable.

For a long time, the go-to for shipping refrigerated freight has been, of course, reefer truckload. But did you know that there's an alternative that is often cheaper and more reliable? Shipping your temp-controlled freight over the rail via refrigerated intermodal is quickly becoming an extremely popular trend.

There's many reasons for this. A huge one: The technology involved is fairly advanced and takes much of the worry and stress out of the process. When you ship your freight via refrigerated intermodal, the containers are enabled with 24/7 satellite tracking, internal temperature monitoring, and the ability to remotely change the temperature of the containers. The reefer units also have 120-150 gallon fuel tanks, which is roughly two to three times the capacity of the tanks on reefer units typically found on trucks. It's pretty futuristic!

Beyond the reliability of this mode, there is a potential for a huge cost savings in comparison to shipping over the road. Because an intermodal train uses so much less fuel per pound of shipment, it usually is an extremely affordable option, especially for reefer freight.

Jeremy Odom, an account manager here at Trinity, manages all the shipments for one of our customers, a well-known non-dairy frozen dessert manufacturer. He's been assisting them with transitioning from reefer truckload to refrigerated intermodal in the lanes where it makes sense to do so, and so far, they've been very pleased with the results.

“They had heard of it before, but we suggested it for certain lanes and they've been very happy with the cost savings!” Jeremy shared. “I surprised them when we shipped a two-drop ice cream load via intermodal. They were impressed that we could do a multiple-drop shipment over the rail. In my opinion, refrigerated intermodal really is a safer way to transport perishable products. The reefer containers hold so much more fuel than an over-the-road reefer unit, and the up-to-date tracking and remote temperature control technology is absolutely amazing!”

If you're considering experimenting with refrigerated intermodal shipping, ask yourself these questions: Are you looking for a way to save money on your reefer freight? (That one's a no brainer.) Are you often concerned with the well-being of your temperature-controlled shipments? Do you frequently ship long-distance (800 miles or more)? Are your pick-up and delivery points near intermodal terminals? (We'll help you figure this one out.) Do you have flexibility to adjust to slightly longer transit times, in some cases? If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, you are a good candidate!

What's the next step? If you're still unsure about refrigerated intermodal and want to get more information, you can request a consultation here and we'll have someone get in touch with you to address your concerns. If you're gung-ho excited to start using this method and dying to know how much money you might save, you can go ahead and request a quote on our website and we'll get you a rate ASAP!