EXPANDED VIEW ON THE CONCEPT OF INTERMODALITY
Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet), 2005
Intermodal research has to a large extent focused on the technical issues of intermodality and transport optimisation. While the focal point of the theoretical intermodal concept is on the transfer of load units between transport modes, practitioners acknowledge the transfer of information and responsibilities between involved actors as key issues.
This research investigates the contradiction of viewpoints: on one hand, the goods flow perspective where flows are seen as continuous chains through nodes and links in a transport network, and on the other hand, the firm perspective with focus on the transport operators internal productivity and profitability. There is thus a conceptual limitation in the simplistic linear view of the theoretical intermodal concept, referring to intermodal transport chains as seamless, with regard to cooperation among actors in the network structure. As a consequence, a conflict of interests may occur between the two perspectives. The conclusions have been reached through two extensive case studies where findings have been categorised into three key areas that are essential in order to attain high performance in an intermodal assignment: interfaces, chain integration and resource utilisation. The key areas include both technical and organisational aspects, to reflect the characteristics of intermodality.
Execution of an intermodal transport assignment relies on both the operators business strategies and the characteristics of their respective transport modes. The former relates to the efficiency of information transfer and the willingness to cooperate among the actors, whereas the latter refers to connectivity in terms of appropriate facilities and bridging of gaps between the modes concerning frequency, capacity and time. This paper focuses on the first issue and the objective is to broaden the view on intermodal transportation by bringing organisational and managerial aspects into consideration besides the pure technical description. There is thus a need of expanding the most widespread theoretical definition of intermodality in order to reflect the distinguishing characteristics of intermodal transportation. Thereby the theoretical description of the concept better reflects practice.
intermodal transport concept
goods flow perspective
definition of intermodality