Cold Train Suspension Leaves Shippers Scrambling

When Cold Train Express Intermodal Service suspended operations in mid-August, shippers in the Pacific Northwest were left scrambling for ways to get just-harvested pears and apples to markets in 24 states and Ontario while the fruits are still at peak freshness. Standard intermodal rail is one option, but BNSF’s northern corridor currently is clogged with oil trains. Trucks offer another possibility, except there’s a shortage of qualified drivers.

Producers, therefore, must either accept longer delivery times as major carriers juggle schedules, or try their luck with small, regional truckers willing to haul – but not necessarily knowledgeable about – produce.

Both options are risky. The risk can be managed if everyone understands the stakes – and knows the shipments are being monitored.

Studies have shown that items are handled differently when companies and individuals throughout the supply chain know any damage can be traced to their action or inaction. Temperature monitors do that. While simple indicators can prove temperature excursions occurred, more sophisticated monitors combine GPS with temperature and impact readings. Therefore, shippers and carriers know exactly where and when impacts or temperature excursions occurred, allowing liability to be placed squarely on those at fault. That’s a powerful incentive for new carriers to do everything in their power to ensure deliveries go smoothly.

Product monitoring also provides carriers with a powerful sales tool. By proving they deliver temperature-sensitive items safely, this data may even help them win and keep new clients.

For more information about managing risk through monitoring, contact ShockWatch.