It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that transportation costs can have tremendous impacts to a company’s bottom line. Transloading can be an effective solution for any shipper seeking ways to reduce costs associated with the transportation of their products or those wanting to reap the benefits of barge and rail shipments without having direct access. A terminal partner, like BL Duke River Terminal (BLDRT), helps shippers experiencing these types of challenges achieve their goals.

Many shippers want to know: what is transloading and how does it benefit our company? To answer these questions VP of Business Development, Bri Binnie, explains the ins and outs of transloading and the role BL Duke River Terminal plays in helping their clients understand more sustainable and cost-effective modes of shipping.

What is transloading?

Transloading can be achieved by combining different modes of shipping and maximizing the efficiencies of each mode. For example, products are moved from one mode (rail or barge) to another (truck). Using truck transportation for short hauls and barge or rail for the longer portion of a delivery is more economical because shipping in larger quantities via barge or rail is spreading the cost out over more quantity and is generally less expensive than long-haul trucking. As a bonus, barge and rail are more environmentally friendly with significantly less CO2 emissions per ton shipped.

What capabilities do transloaders have?

Every transloading facility is different. Each one has their own set of unique capabilities, modes, equipment, and other value add services like warehousing and inventory management. BL Duke River Terminal is equipped to handle a variety of commodities through their Joliet, IL facility including steel coils, long products, tubing, baled products, and project cargo to name a few. Facilitating the movement of these products is no easy task and requires a variety of equipment to do so safely and efficiently, of which BL Duke has no shortage. The facility boasts crane capacities ranging from 120-250 tons, forklift capacities from 30-52K tons, and a multitude of equipment capabilities in between.

“Every client has unique cargo with unique handling requirements. Our team has the experience and know-how to tackle just about any job” – Bri Binnie, VP Business Development

In addition to having the equipment required to maneuver various cargos, the Joliet facility is multimodal. BLDRT has two barge docks on the Des Plaines River providing clients access to barge on the inland waterway. This allows the flow of goods nationally and internationally via the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. A six-railcar spot connects to the Canadian National (CN) Railway, a class I provider. This access also means clients can ship nationally and internationally on rail. “Water and rail are the least expensive modes of transportation per ton” Binnie said. “Having access to both [modes] means our clients have more options”.

BLDRT Teammates next to one of several Taylor fork trucks used to maneuver steel coils around the warehouse.

Other features making BLDRT unique are its location and value-add services. The terminal is located southwest of the Chicago Metro area placing the facility at the heart of US manufacturing. The property is several miles from I-55, I-80, I-90, and I-94 allowing easy passage to and around the bustling city of Chicago and surrounding areas. BLDRT maintains strategic relationships with commercial carriers to arrange JIT programs or final-mile delivery to the end users, and a state-of-the-art customer portal for inventory management. For clients requiring storage, there are 30 acres of outdoor space and 250K square feet of climate-controlled warehouse space available. “We love working with our clients on the perfect solution. We will talk through their needs and have the flexibility to make investments required to get the job done! We’re ‘yes’ people and we are always looking for new ways to improve our customer experience to earn more of their business. If our clients need help getting started with barge or rail shipments, we leverage our vast industry connections to create a more seamless experience.”

What are the benefits of transloading?

The main goal of transloading is to provide a means for shippers to gain efficiencies and reduce costs by utilizing different modes of shipment. Using modes like barge or rail for the longer portion of delivery can minimize transportation costs and cover a longer distance for less than long-haul trucking. Shippers can also use transloaders like BLDRT to reach new markets by using warehouse and storage facilities as a distribution point. BLDRT acts as an extension to a shippers business by providing the additional warehouse space, managing inventory and the release of material for delivery. Transloading creates a nexus between shipping modes and gives shippers access to modes that may not be available to them directly.

Aside from economical and cost efficiencies, shipping by barge or rail has benefits to the

Source: National Waterways Foundation

environment. Both these modes of transportation help reduce the amount of heavy-truck traffic traveling long-distance and due to their ability to carry more tons per unit they also reduce the amount of CO2 emissions per ton-miles. One 1500 ton barge is the equivalent of 17 railcars or 67 truckloads. According to the National Waterways Foundation the same amount of material traveling by barge would emit 36% more CO2/ton-mile on rail, and 888% more CO2/ton-mile on truck. If your company wants to continuously improve the sustainability of their supply chain, transloading is a great place to start.


Learn More

We hope you found this blog helpful in answering your questions about transloading. If you would like to learn more about transloading, shipping by barge and rail, or BL Duke River Terminal, reach out to us!