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Usually, the companies printed on cargo containers aren’t household names – it’s more typical to see companies such as CSX, BNSF, and so on printed on freight trains as they whoosh by.
But there’s a much more recognisable brand that’s making its own push into intermodal (or train) containers: Walmart.
Since summer 2018, the $US500 billion retailer has been piloting a program in which it uses its own intermodal containers, instead of going through a third-party rail company or middleman, Supply Chain Dive first reported. Walmart truck drivers are also newly trucking those containers between the railway and Walmart facilities.
“When we give it to a third-party provider, we don’t necessarily have the control,” Ken Braunbach, vice president of inbound logistics at Walmart, told Business Insider. “We are at the third party’s discretion of how they operate and optimise our network – whereas we have that capability when we move it ourselves.”
The pilot is only in Southern California, near the massive ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Those ports handle $US2 billion in cargo trade every day as the main entry points for shipped-in goods from Asia.
Walmart’s cargo containers were designed in-house to for optimal use in retail operations. Braunbach said rail containers only have swing doors, which aren’t ideal for loading goods into a store or a warehouse. Walmart’s intermodal containers, however, have roll-up doors, like most big rigs.
Roll-up doors are “really conducive to retail operations and retail delivery,” Braunbach said. “What that means is that those can deliver at any time – whether store is open or there’s receiving associates available in the backroom. And when they (associates) are ready to unload into the store, they open the back door and it’s ready to go.”
This article first appeared on www.businessinsider.com.au
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