The service, InterTurn, is the first to automate the concept of the ‘virtual container yard’, in which empty containers are moved directly to the next loading point instead of being taken back to a terminal or railhead.
IAS estimates that, at any time, 30%–40% of intermodal trucks are hauling empty containers, the result of an inefficient system in which containers are routinely returned to terminals or depots after being unloaded. InterTurn eliminates these empty trips by matching available containers ‘on the street’ with shippers’ need for empty equipment. Instead of being delivered back to the terminal, boxes are delivered direct to the shipper for loading.
Because of the difficulties currently involved in arranging street turns (numerous phone calls, faxes or e-mails), IAS estimates that only around 2% of street turn opportunities are realised. By using InterTurn, says the company, container operators can save substantial amounts in gate fees, storage charges and terminal handling fees, and can also reduce the size of their container fleet.
Trucking companies can save delays at terminal gates and make more runs; shippers are able to source containers more easily; and fewer unnecessary truck movements mean less environmental pollution.
“Today, there is too much empty container mileage. Every member of the transport chain suffers – ocean carriers, trucking companies, shippers, ports and terminals, and even the public,” said Paul Crinks, CEO of IAS. “With InterTurn powering virtual container yards across the country, we have the ability to eliminate those inefficiencies, reduce congestion and reduce emissions.”