Knocking Down Barriers to Shipping via US Waterways

June 8, 2023

It's clear to many stakeholders across the logistics community that shipping via US waterways is poised to make massive gains for our nation's supply chain operations. Unfortunately, the lack of information and connectivity solutions available has made coordination and tracking difficult, segmenting off many shippers from the mode. Overcoming these hurdles enables the logistics value chain to capture a large upside by unlocking the unique benefits derived from the use of waterway transportation. 

One of the many benefits of inland marine shipping is that transportation can be leveraged at a low cost allowing shippers to enjoy higher margins on finished goods. In fact, barge shipping lowers transportation costs by over 35% on average. With barges already traveling to and from leading population centers in the US, they create an effective mode to serve imports and exports from major distribution facilities throughout the Midwest and South East. 

Not only is marine transportation a more reliable and affordable option but barges also offer high capacity with up to 36 trailers worth of cargo on a single inland barge. 

Despite the inherent benefits of shipping over waterways for logistics professionals, there are some questions associated with inland marine transportation and work to do to streamline efficiencies and enable easier access. 

How do I get my cargo as close to its destination as possible while minimizing the complexities? 

Streamlining connectivity between waterway shipping and trans load facilities is crucial to making waterway shipping more accessible. There are thousands of marine facilities spread across the nation's waterway systems capable of trans-loading, storing, and delivering last-mile transportation.

The primary issue remains that most of these facilities have unique capabilities and business operations, with little to no web presence. Logistics professionals and waterways users alike have limited knowledge of available options and are generally required to conduct hours if not days of work to find facilities that work for their needs and get a quote. 

To help shippers maximize the utilization of waterways, they need an easy way to find capable facilities as close to their destination as possible. Additionally, by simplifying the logistical operations of multi-modal transportation, our industry can become capable of solving land and marine connectivity issues.

When will my cargo arrive at its destination?

This is a common question in logistics across all modes of transportation, but waterways, in particular, have traditionally had a difficult time answering this. 

Many marine carriers don't operate the terminals that the cargo is being trans loaded to, and communication between shippers, carriers, and facilities is essential to providing visibility in the supply chain. The disparate information due to manual processes passed between parties makes it near impossible for transparency to persist with a reasonable amount of effort.

To give shippers confidence and predictability, better visibility is needed for all parties.

Calling all terminals and facilities

Together we can solve these problems to drive more business for carriers and facilities while helping the global shipping community reduce costs and emissions in shipping. OpenTug's digital booking and connectivity platform does this by digitally connecting shippers, facilities, and barge carriers. 

Shippers search their trade lanes to instantly find facilities and barge carriers to help them access affordable, reliable, and sustainable shipping. The platform's bundle booking feature streamlines connectivity between shippers, terminals, and carriers to get cargo closer to its destination with visibility never before seen in waterway logistics.

OpenTug is seeking to partner with facilities and terminals to help shippers quickly identify facilities served by the rivers to increase access to shipping via waterways, the most sustainable way to move freight.

Terminals, trans-load storage, and port facilities can increase visibility, connectivity, marketing, and sales while helping support the industry we all work in.

Moving Marine Logistics Forward with OpenTug

OpenTug delivers the visibility and connectivity needed for shippers to fully utilize inland and coastal shipping.

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