International trade has increased steadily since the advent of globalisation, and demand for transport services has increased along with it. Multimodal transportation, a must-have option for intercontinental shipments, is a logical development of traditional unimodal road transportation. The transportation industry has always provided a challenging but stimulating environment for the application of optimisation techniques, and the growth in the volume of goods transported annually around the world has increased interest in and utility of operational research methodologies, which are required to effectively manage complex transportation systems.
A multimodal approach leads to strategic optimisation
By strategically combining various transportation modes, companies can achieve cost savings, enhance efficiency, improve customer service, and gain a competitive edge in the market.
As per Xerrxes Master, President, AMTOI, Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India, multimodal logistics offers companies in the transportation industry a comprehensive and integrated approach to supply chain management.
- It provides greater flexibility in managing supply chains. If one mode of transportation is disrupted, such as by a road closure or a port strike, companies can quickly switch to an alternative mode to ensure timely delivery of goods. This flexibility increases reliability and reduces the risk of supply chain disruptions.
- Companies can leverage the speed advantages of different modes of transportation. For example, using air freight for long-distance or time-critical shipments can significantly reduce transit times compared to relying solely on road or sea transportation.
- It promotes sustainability by optimising transportation routes and reducing fuel consumption.
Implementing multimodal logistics can present several challenges for companies. Some of the major challenges include:
- Coordinating multiple transportation modes requires effective communication and collaboration between different stakeholders, including carriers, suppliers, and customers. Lack of which can lead to delays, disruptions, and inefficiencies. To overcome this challenge, companies should invest in advanced communication technologies, establish clear lines of communication, and foster collaboration among all parties involved.
- Companies may face challenges in terms of data compatibility, information sharing, and system integration. Implementing a centralised IT infrastructure and using standardised data formats can help overcome these challenges. Additionally, investing in technologies like electronic data interchange (EDI) and application programming interfaces (APIs) can facilitate seamless data integration across different modes.
- Different transportation modes often have varying regulations and compliance requirements. Companies need to be aware of these regulations and ensure adherence to them. Partnering with logistics providers that have expertise in navigating these regulations can help companies overcome this challenge.
It is crucial to conduct thorough research, develop robust strategies, engage in effective partnerships, and leverage technology to overcome these challenges and reap the benefits of multimodal logistics.
Technology and digitalisation
Technology and digitalisation play a crucial role in facilitating the integration of different modes of transportation within multimodal logistics. Here are some ways technology helps in this integration:
- Technology enables real-time tracking and monitoring of shipments across different transportation modes. This visibility allows logistics managers to have a comprehensive view of the entire supply chain, helping them identify bottlenecks, manage delays, and respond proactively to disruptions.
- It also improves communication and collaboration among stakeholders by providing accurate and up-to-date information.
- Technology enables the integration and sharing of data across different transportation modes. This integration allows for seamless information flow, reducing errors, duplication, and manual data entry.
- It improves communication and facilitates coordination, as all stakeholders have access to the same information, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Overall, technology plays a critical role in overcoming the challenges and complexities associated with integrating different modes of transportation.
Coordinating multiple transportation modes requires effective communication and collaboration between different stakeholders
Pioneering future Multimodal Logistics
As per the views of Vipin Vohra, Chairman, Continental Carriers (CCPL), multimodal logistics represents a transformative and essential aspect of the transportation industry’s evolution.
The multimodal logistics strategy seamlessly integrates various transportation modes like air, sea, rail, and road to optimise efficiency and cost-effectiveness while mitigating the risks associated with relying solely on one mode.
From Vohra’s perspective, one of the key advantages of adopting multimodal logistics is the improved efficiency it brings to companies in the transportation and supply chain industries. By leveraging different modes of transportation, businesses can optimise their supply chain, select the most efficient routes, and reduce transit times and overall logistics costs.
Vohra also emphasises the increased flexibility and resilience that multimodal logistics offer. With access to multiple transportation options, companies can quickly adapt to varying customer demands and effectively navigate disruptions or capacity constraints in any one mode. This adaptability ensures a more stable supply chain and minimises the risk of disruptions impacting operations.
Another significant benefit is the potential cost savings achieved through multimodal logistics. By utilising the cost advantages of each mode, such as employing rail or sea for long-haul transportation, companies can reduce expenses compared to relying solely on road or air transport.
Sustainability is a critical concern for Vipin Vohra in the context of multimodal logistics. He believes that this approach plays a crucial role in reducing carbon footprints and promoting eco-friendly transportation. By optimising routes, utilising environmentally friendly transport modes, and implementing better planning and coordination, companies can contribute to a greener industry.
As for the future of multimodal logistics, Vohra foresees several trends shaping the industry. Advancements in technology, such as AI, IoT, and blockchain, will enhance route planning, real-time tracking, and supply chain visibility. Automation and autonomous vehicles will further optimise operations and safety.
Sustainability will remain a key focus, with customers demanding greener transportation options. To meet this demand, companies should explore using alternative fuels, electric vehicles, and sustainable route planning.
Globalisation will continue to drive the demand for multimodal logistics, necessitating seamless coordination between different transportation modes and compliance with international regulations. Additionally, the rise of e-commerce will require agile and scalable logistics solutions to meet last-mile delivery demands.
In light of these trends, Vohra advises companies to invest in digitalization, collaboration, and sustainability efforts. Embracing innovative technologies and fostering partnerships within the supply chain ecosystem will ensure a competitive advantage in the dynamic world of multimodal logistics.
Regarding government initiatives, he acknowledges the Indian government’s efforts to boost the logistics sector through initiatives like the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan and the National Logistics Policy. These initiatives aim to enhance supply chain infrastructure and catalyse economic growth.
The success stories of companies like Continental Carriers (CCPL) exemplify the potential of multimodal logistics during times of crisis. CCPL’s dedication and innovative strategies in providing vital logistics support during the COVID-19 pandemic earned recognition from various ministries of the Government of India. Their achievements showcased the importance of multimodal logistics in enhancing efficiency and reducing costs while contributing to the welfare of society.
In conclusion, Vipin Vohra views multimodal logistics as a transformative strategy offering increased efficiency, flexibility, reliability, and sustainability to transportation companies. The future of this approach looks promising, with technological advancements, a sustainability focus, globalisation, and e-commerce driving its growth. Embracing digitalization, collaboration, and sustainable practices will be crucial for companies to stay competitive in the evolving world of multimodal logistics.
Sustainability will remain a key focus, with customers demanding greener transportation options
Multimodal Logistics: A sustainable and tech-driven future
According to Shazul Mohd., CEO, Fast Logistics, a sustainable and tech-driven future envisions a world where companies leverage multiple transportation modes to optimise efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in the logistics sector.
Multimodal logistics is an approach that involves using multiple modes of transportation, such as trucks, trains, planes, and ships, to move goods from one location to another. It aims to optimise the transportation process by selecting the most efficient and cost-effective modes for different parts of the journey. This strategy allows companies to enhance efficiency, save money, and mitigate risks by diversifying their transportation options. By seamlessly integrating different modes, companies can create a more reliable and flexible supply chain, ensuring smooth and timely delivery of goods. Multimodal logistics is a valuable tool for companies seeking to optimise their transportation operations and maximise their competitiveness in the market.
Implementing multimodal logistics can be tough, but there are ways to make it work. Companies need to coordinate different transportation modes and work with different people. Using advanced systems helps organise everything and keeps everyone informed. Sometimes, there might not be enough infrastructure or good connections, but collaborating with transportation providers can help improve that. Following rules and regulations can be tricky, but getting help from experts makes it easier. Managing information and data can be overwhelming, but special tools can help. Working together and having backup plans are important too. By facing challenges and finding solutions, companies can make multimodal logistics successful and enjoy its benefits.
Technology and digitalization play a vital role in bringing different modes of transportation together in multimodal logistics. They help connect and coordinate these modes effectively. By using technology, logistics providers can share information in real-time, ensuring everyone has the most up-to-date details about shipments, routes, and schedules. This improves how different transportation modes work together. Technology also allows us to track shipments and see where they are at any given moment. This helps us make better decisions and reduces the chances of delays or problems. Using smart algorithms, technology helps us find the best routes and decide which transportation modes to use. It also helps us use our resources efficiently. Digital platforms make it easy for different systems and people to share information and work together. Technology also gets rid of paperwork by using digital documents, making things faster and more organised. Overall, technology and digitalization make it easier to connect different modes of transportation and make multimodal logistics more efficient.
Global Multimodal Evolution
Multimodal logistics is going to grow worldwide as companies want more efficient and eco-friendly ways to move goods. The focus on the environment means there is a demand for transportation options that produce fewer carbon emissions, and multimodal logistics can help with that. Governments can encourage this growth by supporting sustainable modes like trains and ships. Building better infrastructure, like ports and rail networks, makes it easier to connect different types of transportation. Simplifying customs procedures and rules across borders helps things run smoother. Technology is a big part of multimodal logistics too, with things like tracking devices and automation making it more efficient. Trade agreements that make it easier to do business internationally also support the growth of multimodal logistics.
The government’s push for integrated logistics and multi-modal connectivity in India is a positive step for the logistics industry. The PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan aims to boost economic growth and sustainability by focusing on seven key areas: roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways, and logistics infrastructure. This comprehensive approach holds promise for improving connectivity and efficiency in the logistics sector.
Multimodal logistics is going to grow worldwide as companies want more efficient and eco-friendly ways to move goods
Harnessing Multimodal Logistics: Advantages, Challenges, Role of Technology
As per Debajyoti Bagchi, Vice President,Trucking and Air Cargo Charters, TT Group, the multimodal logistics approach highlights how an effectively implemented strategy may result in substantial cost savings and operational optimisation.
Multimodal logistics is the utilisation of multiple transportation modes, such as road, rail, air, and sea, to efficiently transport goods. It offers companies in the logistics industry several advantages. Firstly, it enhances efficiency by leveraging the strengths of different modes for optimised routing. Secondly, it helps reduce costs through optimal mode selection based on factors like distance, volume, and urgency. Thirdly, it improves reliability by mitigating risks associated with disruptions in a single mode. Fourthly, it expands market reach by accessing remote or landlocked regions. Fifthly, it contributes to sustainability through greener transportation choices. Lastly, it aids in regulatory compliance by meeting diverse transportation requirements.
Adopting a multimodal logistics model provides several significant advantages to businesses. For instance, it improves operational flexibility by capitalising on the capabilities of several modes of transportation based on individual requirements such as cost, speed, and capacity. In addition, it improves supply chain resilience by minimising reliance on a single method of transportation, reducing the chance of disruptions or delays. Furthermore, it allows for cost optimisation by selecting the most efficient and cost-effective mix of modes. Finally, it broadens market reach by reaching out to remote or off-the-beaten-path areas. Finally, it promotes sustainability by enabling businesses to select greener transportation methods and cut carbon emissions.
One notable success story in recent time showcasing the benefits of multimodal logistics is the case of Maersk Line, a global shipping company. Maersk implemented a multimodal logistics strategy to optimise its supply chain and reduce costs. By integrating sea, rail, and road transportation, Maersk improved efficiency and achieved significant cost savings. They utilised sea transport for long-haul shipments, rail for inland transportation, and trucks for last-mile delivery. This approach allowed them to leverage each mode’s strengths, reduce transit times, minimise transportation costs, and enhance overall supply chain efficiency. Maersk’s multimodal logistics approach exemplifies how a well-executed strategy can lead to tangible benefits in terms of cost reduction and operational optimization.
For businesses, implementing multimodal logistics might present a number of difficulties. First, handling intermodal transfers, organising multiple transportation modes, and guaranteeing smooth integration could be challenging. Second, administrative challenges may be caused by variations in infrastructure, rules, and documentation between modes. Thirdly, it can be difficult to find trustworthy and affordable partners in each method. Overcoming these challenges requires effective communication, collaboration, and information sharing among stakeholders. Investing in technology solutions for real-time visibility, data integration, and supply chain analytics can streamline operations. Emphasising standardisation, process optimisation, and continuous improvement can help align different modes and mitigate challenges associated with infrastructure and regulations. Developing strong partnerships and conducting thorough vendor evaluations can ensure reliable and efficient service across modes.
Role of technology
Technology and digitalization play a crucial role in facilitating the integration of different modes of transportation in multimodal logistics. They enable seamless communication, coordination, and data exchange between various stakeholders and transportation modes. Real-time tracking and visibility solutions provide accurate and timely information on cargo location, condition, and status, enhancing operational efficiency. Overall, technology and digitalisation enable smoother information flow, enhance decision-making, and improve the overall integration and efficiency of multimodal logistics operations.
Emphasising standardisation, process optimisation, and continuous improvement can help align different modes and mitigate challenges associated with infrastructure and regulations
Multimodal Logistics: Enhancing efficiency and global connectivity
Discover how multimodal logistics revolutionises the transportation industry by driving efficiency, reducing costs, and creating seamless global supply chains, as explained by Akash Bansal, Executive Director of OM Logistics.
Taking a broader view, multimodal logistics is an exciting method that demonstrates how goods move around the world. Picture a flow where products are transported in different ways, such as roads, railways, airplanes, and ships, all working together smoothly. This approach improves how quickly things get delivered, saves money, and ensures dependability, making it an appealing option for companies.
Let us now share some remarkable success stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of multimodal logistics. The supply chain management for a prominent manufacturer was optimised by accelerating transport between Asia and Europe through a combination of container shipping and the Trans-Siberian Railway. The result was evident in faster transit times and increased customer satisfaction. In another noteworthy case, collaboration with the railways allowed for the integration of trains for long-haul transportation and trucks for first- and last-mile deliveries, all tracked in real-time from end to end. This integration resulted in cost reductions and a more environmentally friendly approach. These success stories underscore the commitment to innovation and seamless integration, consistently leading to enhanced efficiency and cost reduction for valued clients.
In the realm of implementing multimodal logistics, companies frequently face diverse challenges. Non-standard logistics systems may cause difficulties in data exchanges, but our investment in cutting-edge technology enables seamless data sharing and integration. Delays during intermodal transfers can be a concern when infrastructure is insufficient, but the upgrade of transfer points guarantees smoother cargo transitions. Moreover, regulatory compliance challenges are addressed through strong bonds with authorities and effective compliance management systems. The company remains committed to persistently overcoming these challenges and providing top-notch logistics solutions that surpass clients’ expectations.
In the context of facilitating the integration of different transportation modes in multimodal logistics, the role of technology and digitalization is paramount. Advanced logistics software empowers companies with real-time tracking and visibility of goods, enabling them to make informed decisions and respond swiftly to any challenges. IoT devices, including sensors and GSM-based tracking, play a pivotal role in monitoring cargo conditions and environmental factors during transportation, ensuring the integrity and quality of clients’ goods. Overall, technology forms the heart of multimodal logistics, streamlining operations and enhancing efficiency.
When considering the evolution of multimodal logistics on a global scale, it appears to have a promising future. With the increasing prominence of e-commerce and globalisation, integrated supply chains have become more vital than ever, making multimodal logistics an indispensable solution. This collaborative approach is expected to foster more business partnerships and efficient global logistics ecosystems worldwide. Delightfully, there is steady support from international governments, as evidenced by their infrastructure investments and policies that promote sustainable logistics practices. As part of this transformative journey, the company is excited to provide exceptional logistics solutions to its clients on a global scale.
With the increasing prominence of e-commerce and globalisation, integrated supply chains have become more vital than ever, making multimodal logistics an indispensable solution
Exploring power of multimodal transportation
Dr. Pramod Sant, Former VP of Siemens and Head of Import, Export, and Customs, emphasises the benefits of Multimodal Logistics for companies in the transportation industry: Enhanced customer experience, reduced coordination, increased accountability, and improved supply chain security through technology integration.
Multimodal transport is the transportation of goods under a single contract using two or more modes of transportation. The term “Combined transport” or “Intermodal Transport” is also used many times. Please refer to Chart 1.
Companies in the transport industry can enhance the customer experience by providing an end-to-end solution that reduces hassles and increases reliability.
Multimodal Logistics offers a diverse range of advantages:
- The first and biggest advantage is that it eliminates coordination with multiple transport providers handling different modes of transport.
- Reduce the number of contracts to one.
- Increased accountability and brings operation costs down.
- Minimises delay, and delivery is OTIF (on time in full).
- Increased transport security
There are several successful examples of multimodal logistics implementations that have shown improved efficiency and cost reduction.
One such example involves Power Plant equipment, which requires a diverse range of items, with on-time delivery being crucial (OTIF). Failing to adhere to the schedule can cause delays and cost overruns. However, with detailed planning, it becomes possible to ensure timely delivery while maintaining safety and efficient handling.
Furthermore, in a Power Transmission and Distribution project, multiple sites were involved, necessitating the use of various transport modes like Sea, road, and waterways. The delivery of specific containers at scheduled times at the sites was critical. A single missing container could have caused months of delay and incurred hefty penalties. The transportation cost for handling such delays could have adversely affected the overall project expenses.
Overall, these examples highlight how multimodal logistics can play a significant role in achieving efficiency and cost-saving benefits in complex projects.
Companies encounter several major challenges when implementing multimodal logistics, but these can be overcome through proper solutions and strategies.
The key to successful multimodal logistics lies in making the right choice when selecting a Multimodal Transport Operator (MTO). It is essential to assess their capabilities, talents, and available skills. Can the MTO handle your business, shipments, or projects efficiently? It’s crucial to determine how well they can manage relationships with various suppliers, including Shipping companies, Road transporters, or their rail handling capabilities.
The critical aspect of monitoring and controlling the MTO’s performance cannot be overlooked. Proper evaluation and careful selection of the MTO can help mitigate this risk. One common challenge faced in multimodal logistics is the trace and track process, where MTOs tend to be weak causing excessive manual work and potential errors in tracking shipments. It is possible to overcome this challenge by establishing the right expectations and implementing efficient tracking systems to avoid any pitfalls.
The key to successful multimodal logistics lies in making the right choice when selecting a Multimodal Transport Operator