From the Commercial Appeal -
Intermodal Cartage is jockeying for advantage in its niche of the Memphis transportation market by adding capacity to move heavier shipping containers.
The unit of Memphis-based IMC Companies recently bought 50 triaxle chassis for $1.25 million to augment service at area intermodal rail yards.
The purchase gives the company about 65 triaxles, which provide more efficient transportation options for customers by carrying heavier containers legally, said Katie George Hooser, business development manager.
The upgrade comes at a time when a push is on to increase U.S. exports. Agricultural commodities grown in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi are a big export item and prime candidate for the new triaxles.
Triaxle chassis can improve efficiency and reduce emissions for transportation companies, though heavier loads have been criticized for putting more stress on roads.
“I would say that anything we can do that can increase the productivity of drayage or inter- or intra-city truck travel would be a good thing, provided it doesn’t come with an added cost to maintain the road system,” said Marty Lipinski, director of the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute at the University of Memphis.
Intermodal Cartage, founded by Hooser’s father, Mark George, has 325 drivers at terminals in Memphis, Nashville, Dallas and Kansas City. It specializes in drayage, or movement of shipments in and out of railroad yards and ports.
“It’s a big investment for us,” Hooser said. “It’s exciting because we’ve been needing them for a long time,” she added.
“We just found out there was a need for that, and customers were looking for triaxles to handle overweight freight. We handle a lot of agricultural products, especially in Arkansas, and I think the number of those we’re handling has increased. Those sometimes are heavier shipments and may need a specialized chassis.”
A regular chassis with two axles can handle about 39,000 pounds. A triaxle, which has a third axle, can handle a container weighing about 47,000 pounds, or 20 percent heavier. The chassis, purchased from Pratt Industries, include 35 for 20-foot containers and 15 that handle either 20- or 40-foot containers.
“They’re red because we’ve changed all of our logos, we’ve changed our identity, and we want that to be reflected in everything we do,” Hooser said.
The company plans to use the new chassis primarily in the Memphis market, hauling containers to and from the five Class 1 railroads with intermodal facilities here: Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Canadian National, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.