Bringing Predictability to Crosstown Intermodal Transfer

Background: Accepting the Price of Doing Business

A leading value chain retailer of apparel and home fashions was experiencing significant and unpredictable delays moving product from its distribution center in California to its distribution center in Canada because of crosstown delays in Chicago. This was not only causing the retailer’s staff to constantly manage and rebook the freight, but also causing numerous delays getting product onto store shelves. The retailer, like many others, thought that it was the price of moving freight from the U.S. to Canada.

Moving freight from California to Canada

Situation: Uncertain Shipments Impact the Bottom Line

Unpredictable crosstown delays of one to four days meant that the retailer’s internal team had to wait until freight was in Chicago before they could book receiving appointments to the final destination. The delayed last-minute bookings consistently resulted in a lack of capacity to move product from the intermodal ramp to the distribution center in Canada. This meant product was left sitting, and the retailer continually incurred detention charges, ramp storage charges and, ultimately, lost sales, since product wasn’t available on store shelves.

The retailer attempted to control the situation by intentionally incorporating additional transit time into its supply chain, but even accounting for extra time still proved to be unpredictable and financially detrimental; when transit is overly padded, ramp storage charges can add up quickly.

After talking with Schneider, the retailer learned that freight moving through Chicago doesn’t have to be difficult and time-consuming. Schneider had the capabilities and experience to provide a solution that would yield the desired supply chain predictability. The retailer knew it needed a way to ensure certainty of its shipments — and take back control of the bottom line.

Schneider's Solution: An Efficient Way Forward

Before the first load was moved, Schneider invited the retailer to visit the intermodal ramp in Chicago to show the team how it planned to execute crosstown moves. The retailer was impressed with Schneider’s driver domiciles and the solid relationships the transportation provider has with its railroad providers. Additionally, Schneider’s inventory of chassis and containers, along with its ability to supplement the private fleet with a large network of third-party carriers as needed, further established that the retailer had made the right choice. In short, the retailer’s employees were awed with the speed and efficiency that Schneider was able to provide.

Schneider also scheduled an onboarding call with the retailer. During that call, all of the key details of the business were discussed and accounted for. The next step: move the first load and put Schneider’s crosstown capabilities to the test.

Results: Crosstown Predictability Achieved

Three days of gained transit time

The retailer needed predictability, and Schneider delivered — on time. Now freight spends, on average, only half a day in Chicago as it makes its way from one railway to the next. Additional results include:

  • Three days of gained transit time
  • Receiving appointments booked at the freight’s point of origin
  • Increased productivity of internal resources
  • Increased sales

increased sales

After months of predictability, increased efficiency and positive business results, the retailer has worked with Schneider to move nearly triple the loads. Additionally, the retailer has asked Schneider to move loads from Canada to Mexico, expanding on the successful working relationship. Thanks to Schneider, the retailer can now spend more time working on its business rather than worrying about it.

Published September 2017