Direct ChassisLink Inc. (DCLI) is moving chassis from the East Coast to the Midwest market in reaction to a supply chain disruption slowing down rail-to-truck cargo movement through Chicago this winter.
Since Jan. 1, the chassis provider has reallocated 450 chassis from the south Atlantic and Northeast and will move about 1,600 in total into the Midwest, supplementing the current pool of about 13,000 chassis. The Midwest pool consists of locations in Cincinnati; Cleveland; Detroit; Indianapolis, Minneapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky.
Trucks, though, are necessary to move the chassis from other pools to compensate for the shortage. With tighter capacity in the truckload market, securing the driver and moving the equipment is also a challenge.
Chief operating officer Ron Joseph told JOC.com that the current street utilization ratio is about 60 percent. The DCLI online portal, though, shows less than a dozen available 20- and 40-foot chassis at the three Chicago-area, BNSF Railway rail yards as of Monday. Other Midwest markets do not have the same shortage as Chicago, according to the website.
“The trains are not running on time right now and if you’ve got them running behind it’s hard to make projections on when to move chassis in and have them ready. So we’ve seen a lot of dislocation of equipment in Chicago,” Joseph said. “The dislocation is greater than we usually see in the Chicago market right now.”
He added that communication with the railroads is one key to properly forecast where to station the chassis for truckers to obtain equipment without driving across Chicago to an alternate location.
“If we’re planning a train arriving at a certain time and it gets delayed for some reason, if they don’t tell us that, we can’t get the right amount of chassis to the right place at the right time,” said Joseph, although he declined to mention the interactions with specific railroads this winter.
TRAC Intermodal — another major chassis provider in Chicago — was not available for comment.
Contact Ari Ashe at email@example.com.