Shipper Case Study

Bulk Express Intermodal improves efficiency for leading water polymer supplier with more capacity options

This polyacrylamides manufacturer lowered transportation costs and improved capacity, ensuring its water polymers make it to treatment facilities safely, quickly and efficiently.


Background: Polymer manufacturer strives to increase capacity and reduce costs

The largest manufacturer of polyacrylamides in the world supplies water treatment facilities all over the U.S. with water-soluble polymers. The manufacturer sought to increase the number of loads per month it was able to deliver to customers through cost-effective capacity solutions

Situation: Long distance shipments further tightened capacity crunch

Water treatment plants require polymers at a moment’s notice in order to quickly treat water and meet the ebb and flow of supply and demand. Thus the polymer manufacturer was often stuck between a rock and a hard place, as its main plant is located thousands of miles from some destinations.

The company was using over-the-road transportation to get polymers from its headquarters in Riceboro, Ga., to cities around the U.S. This meant that drivers – a highly valuable resource – were spending days on the road to travel thousands of miles in order to get water treatment plants the polymers needed.

The polymer manufacturer hoped to find a way to respond quickly to its customers’ short lead times while reducing its own transportation costs

Schneider’s solution: Bulk Intermodal Express service provides staging, savings and solutions to the capacity strain

Schneider suggested Bulk Intermodal Express to complement its over-the-road service. Schneider Bulk, a combination of intermodal and over-the-road, offers the most long-haul capacity in the chemical market.

Schneider provides drayage of bulk intermodal containers from the company’s manufacturing headquarters in Georgia to the rail ramp. From there, the polymer manufacturer’s products are moved via the railroad in Schneider’s bulk intermodal containers to rail ramps near the final destination. In some cases, the product is even unloaded and staged within Schneider’s facilities.

The company was able to increase capacity as a result of Schneider’s Bulk Intermodal Express service by maintaining a larger pool of drivers to fulfill other over-the-road shipments. Because the company is moving bulk intermodal containers over the rails, it has not tied up a driver to move that long distance and instead gives that driver the opportunity to move another load for the manufacturer.

In fact, it takes about a week for a driver to complete a long truckload move, whereas a driver using bulk intermodal can usually complete several loads within a day. This means that Schneider’s Bulk Intermodal Express service allowed the company to dramatically increase its capacity while using the same number of drivers.

Last, but certainly not least, the polymer manufacturer has been able to save money as less fuel is used with bulk intermodal. The better rate per mile and lower transportation costs per pound shipped via bulk intermodal makes it a more sustainable option. Furthermore, bulk intermodal addressed the company’s desire to move loads with as little environmental impact as possible. Intermodal transportation is twice as energy efficient as over-the-road transport – a benefit that not only lowers overall fuel costs but also enhances corporate sustainability initiatives.

Results: Customer increases shipments eight-fold

Schneider’s unique but proven service solution generated outstanding results for the polymer manufacturer, including:

  • Increased capacity to haul more over-the-road shipments.
  • Started with one to five loads/month and increased to 40 loads/month.
  • Saved money and reduced environmental impact with lower fuel usage.
  • Staged product closer to customer, which allowed the company to meet its customers’ short lead time requirements.
  • Maintained flawless safety record in bulk intermodal shipments since 2012.

With the switch to Schneider’s Bulk Intermodal Express service, the manufacturer was able to lower costs and improve capacity, ensuring its water polymers make it to treatment facilities safely, quickly and efficiently. Impressed by these results, the company has expanded its bulk intermodal coverage.

Published December 2019