containers sitting on truck trailers

OCR Serial Number Scanner for intermodal freight transportation

Over the last two years, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on supply chains, meaning logistics operators have had to scramble to keep up with cargo and deliveries around the world. One particular pain-point has been at intermodal terminals, where even small delays can become big headaches, losing businesses vital revenue.

However, new technologies are helping to speed up intermodal operations by making the identification of intermodal containers much faster and easier, reducing disruptions and ensuring deliveries are made on time.

In this blog, we will discuss the following topics regarding intermodal container identification:

  1. What are the unique challenges involved in intermodal freight transportation?
  2. What are the current issues with intermodal freight identification?
  3. How can logistics companies address these problems?
  4. What technologies are there to identify intermodal containers?
  5. What are the benefits of using OCR?
  6. How can Anyline be integrated?


1. What are the unique challenges involved in intermodal freight transportation?

Intermodal freight transport involves multiple modes of transportation, including trucks, trains or boats, to transport containers. This reduces cargo handling, improves security, and helps speed up transportation.

But nothing comes without downsides, and intermodal freight transportation also involves multiple challenges:

  • As intermodal freight transports various materials over numerous vehicles, creating consistency in paperwork is critical to make sure the right content goes where it is supposed to go.
  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has very specific standards in place for this type of freight, defining how containers should be identified.
  • Intermodal transportation is conducted through multiple contracts across various carriers, increasing the complexity of the delivery.
  • While it reduces the handling of cargo and is more eco-friendly, there is a significant outlay of infrastructure costs to make intermodal freight transportation happen.
  • Intermodal freight will grow in the next few years, because it’s more affordable for shippers, and transportation companies as well as infrastructures will need to adapt.

3. How can logistics companies address these problems?

It’s safe to say that a problem is best solved with an elaborate plan. In the case of intermodal freight transportation problems, the optimization of the freight management system might just do the trick.

Key elements for intermodal transport success

  • Rail Freight Tracking: the industry is using top-tier technology and algorithms that create real-time transportation data to address delays. Rail network delays are larger, requiring shippers to avoid simple mistakes that slow down operations.
  • Waybilling: with all the necessary instructions and details from the origin to the destination, including routes and railroads where the freight will move, poor waybilling contributes to increased costs and delays, leading to inefficiencies.
  • Analysis and Reporting: transport services can identify issues as data is collected for analysis. When cataloged, it’s then possible to root out the problem and address consistent concerns. This allows for them to be fixed if correct data analysis happens. Data can become a game changer for transportation companies.

5. What are the benefits of using OCR?

OCR-based solutions are growing in popularity. Why? They numerous benefits for intermodal freight transportation companies:

  • Real-time visibility
  • Instant information for incident management
  • Full traceability of goods
  • Fewer delivery and pick-up errors
  • Faster input with clear instructions
  • Affordability through controlled returnable asset management
  • Improved back-office administration

6. How can Anyline be integrated?

Anyline’s software development kit (SDK) integrates easily. Hands-on support from customer service teams are available to help. It works with any camera-enabled smartphone or device with support for common integration frameworks such as Xamarin, React Native, Flutter, and Cordova. Integrate it into any app or mobile device. It was developed for iOS, Android, and UWP. It works without an internet connection, and no data is stored on servers making it compliant with the GDPR, DSGVO, APIS, and the CCPA.

You can get started today by testing it yourself with our demo app, or get the 30-day free trial for our SDK. The sample code can be found in our documentation and example projects on GitHub. You can download and test the SDK directly from our demo page.