Bringing It All Together
||W. Bruce Seaton assembled experts from
all surface modes to explore intermodalism.
Many consumers are aware that the products
they purchase come from other parts of the world, but few
realize the role that intermodalism - the
seamless movement of containerized goods using different modes
of transport like ships, trains, and trucks - plays
in the availability of just about everything from jeans to
Transportation providers like APL are making
the connection between sea and land with split-second precision.
And this ability to manage time-sensitive shipments permits
today’s giant retailers to bring such a broad range
of products to the public.
In fact, a recent transportation industry
report asserted that the impact of intermodalism on the global
economy has been greater than that of the U.S. space program
of the 1960s. And it all began when the interdisciplinary
team assembled by Bruce Seaton in the early 1980s pioneered
|The stacktrain made intermodalism a reality in North America.
In just 15 years, intermodalism has had a
tremendous impact. In earlier eras, the movement of cargo
was a slow, often-delayed process. Today, the world's
vast intermodal network supports an environment in which shipments
are in almost perpetual motion.
The result has been a significant increase
in the volume of shipments moving through this efficient system
and a world-wide rise in commercial activity. Here’s
an example of the incredible scale of this new era in global
APL's largest containerships - numbering
almost 50 - transport hundreds of thousands
of shipments. The most commonly used container, which is 40
feet long, eight feet high, and eight feet wide can hold:
||Bringing it all together: Global Gateway North, APL's ultra-efficient intermodal terminal in Seattle.
- 1,000 cases of bananas
- 16,500 boxes of running shoes
- 132,000 videotapes
- 25,000 blouses
Imagine a ship just over three football fields
long that carries over 2,400 forty-foot containers - that's
4 million boxes of shoes!
These huge ships are loaded and discharged
at state-of-the-art terminals, where thousands of containers
of valuable commodities are then efficiently transferred to
dockside trains that carry them to myriad destinations throughout
North America - and ultimately to today's
In a sense, the revolution in cargo handling
that began in the 1950s with the advent of the container has
come full circle. A simple idea has grown into the complex,
world-wide intermodal network delivers the many products we
all use nearly every day.