As the trucking industry continues to examine ways to provide better service at lower cost, many companies are more heavily utilizing intermodal (IM) strategies between truck and rail, especially for those loads that are relatively non-critical in terms of delivery time requirements and that have longer lengths of haul. As IM business grows, supporting dray infrastructure naturally develops around IM rail yards. What is unknown is whether it is best to have a dedicated set of drivers performing dray operations or if efficiency and cost savings can result when utilizing a joint driving fleet to concurrently support IM and traditionally dispatched truckload freight transportation. This paper describes a set of experiments utilizing a comprehensive discrete-event system simulation model and historical data from J.B. Hunt Transport to determine whether or not operating synergies exist when IM dray operations are integrated with local, regional, and long-haul trucking operations. Performance metrics of interest to drivers, customers, and trucking companies are utilized to ensure that the research addresses issues of importance to all constituencies. The results show that there is a trade-off between different performance variables when combining operations, but that generally speaking synergies do exist when considering the needs of professional drivers. Results are more mixed with respect to the needs of carriers and customers, but the authors reach the conclusion that the positive aspects of combining OTR and IM dispatching activities outweigh the negative. Because the evaluative simulation model itself is considered to be a major contribution, it is also described in some detail herein.
Proceedings of the International Material Handling Research Colloquium
Taylor, G. Don; Burns, Mia K.; and Whicker, Gary L., "Investigating Possible Synergies in Intermodal Operations With Truck and Rail" (2010). 11th IMHRC Proceedings (Milwaukee, Wisconsin. USA – 2010). 38.