Lumber train

The Benefits of Rail Meet Just-In-Time Delivery

Released July 12, 2017


Recently, Kenny Rocker, vice president and general manager of industrial products for our parent company, Union Pacific, published an article in Building Products Digest about “Last Mile Delivery & the Evolving Rail Transportation Marketplace." Rocker explains that by providing transloading and forward-staging options, lumber and building supply shippers get the benefits of rail while maintaining the just-in-time delivery their customers require.

Providing this “last-mile" service is exactly what we do day in and day out at UPDS. Our transloading network moves products seamlessly between trucks and trains, so shippers get the agility of trucks with the economies of rail — all without any investment in track.

How does that work for lumber shippers? Let’s say a train delivers a large quantity of lumber to a single location. UPDS arranges for those products to be transloaded from train to truck for final delivery to various customer locations — in other words, we arrange that “last mile" service.

We can cover the “first mile," too: If a lumber shipper doesn’t have tracks at their door, we’ll pick up the product by truck, then transfer it to trains for the long haul.

In both scenarios, transloading provides shippers a unique advantage: access to the economic benefits of rail and the flexibility of over-the-road trucking.

Accessing Economies of Scale

If you’re still wondering why lumber shippers should seek out rail, Rocker explains that rail-based solutions give lumber and building supply shippers access to economies of scale, while also providing environmental benefits.

“On average, one rail car moves the equivalent of four lumber truckloads, reducing transportation costs and highway congestion" he writes. “With one ton of freight moved 456 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel, rail transportation aligns well with forest industry efforts to maintain a smaller carbon footprint."

Enabling Just-In-Time Delivery

When using rail, Rocker says shippers can still provide the Just-in-Time delivery their customers expect, thanks to forward staging. “This process helps fulfill the lumber industry’s ‘last-mile’ needs by offering convenient receiving facilities that serve as a landing spots for customer shipments so that products are ready and waiting once consumers place their orders," Rocker explains.

So if you’re a UPDS customer and you want to ship a large quantity of lumber by rail, we’ll store it, then distribute it to your customers on demand. We coordinate the forward staging process from beginning to end.

At UPDS, we’re all about giving lumber shippers access to rail and the last-mile service they require. Ready to ship with us? Check out our lumber rates. Or, learn more:

Not a lumber shipper? No problem. We ship more than 600 product types. Get in touch — we’ll be happy to find a solution for your commodity.

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