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Bridgestone Americas: 
Where the Rubber Meets the Railroad
 

The world’s largest tire and rubber company finds
the road to success in intermodal rail conversion.
 

The Summary 

Bridgestone Americas is the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, which develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires. Bridgestone and its subsidiaries address the needs of a broad range of tire customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and users in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. 

Bridgestone Americas has been an intermodal user for more than 15 years, utilizing the transportation mode to optimize cost and service for cross-regional and long-haul moves along its distribution network. In addition to an expansive network and an abundance of lane offerings that complement Bridgestone Americas’ freight flow needs, intermodal also provides scalable capacity, helping to ease the constraints that Bridgestone and many other shippers face in the current trucking environment. 

Addressing Supply Chain Challenges 

Bridgestone Americas uses nearly all modes of transportation including truck, less-than-truckload (LTL), intermodal, traditional rail, ocean, air and parcel. These modes must accommodate the movement of both raw materials used at production facilities and finished tire products that need to be distributed across Bridgestone Americas’ network to various customer locations. Bridgestone Americas has a heavy freight footprint across long-haul lanes, representing a significant cost and lead time to manage, and this has been an important area of focus for the company

 

 

Bridgestone Americas’ main supply chain challenges include: 

  • Managing logistics costs to align with overall company expectations
  • Contracting and securing transportation capacity, and overcoming localized and macro constraints
  • Providing a high level of service to customers who are dependent on consistent, reliable delivery of tire products

Intermodal services are incorporated into Bridgestone Americas’ daily planning models to source tire products to the markets served by its plants and distribution centers. When considering conversion from highway to intermodal rail, the company considers cost, lead time requirements, intermodal service levels and capacity. To overcome misperceptions that service levels may be sacrificed by using intermodal rail, Bridgestone Americas often provides transportation manifests to its customers and counterparts to assure them that intermodal services are consistent, reliable and able to meet the demands of inventory and on-time shipment performance. CSX Transportation (CSXT) Intermodal works with Bridgestone Americas to convert additional freight from highway to rail by reviewing overall volume commitments in the Bridgestone Americas network and highlighting freight flows that can provide cost savings and capacity that over-the-road alternatives cannot match. This review hones in on long-haul solutions to meet Bridgestone Americas’ supply chain needs of positioning inventory within its distribution network. 

The Results 

In addition to reliable capacity, Bridgestone Americas experiences truck-like transit times on long-haul moves, with the same or better service measurements across modes. Further, relationships with preferred carriers and intermodal marketing companies to secure rates and capacity that meet the requirements of its network has driven Bridgestone Americas to use more intermodal rail transportation over time.

When considering transportation options, Bridgestone Americas assesses what mode and provider will yield the greatest value in terms of overall cost and service performance. Using intermodal has helped the company manage its large supply chain by providing the ability to plan and secure its capacity in advance through intermodal carriers. By doing so, Bridgestone Americas can eliminate bottlenecks and delays that are often experienced in the trucking market. The company values the loyalty and experience of its carriers and sustains relationships that are mutually beneficial for their business and for the selected carrier.

Bridgestone Americas considers intermodal options to be more service competitive with truckload alternatives due to improvements in rail transit times and growing hours of service constraints, which limit over-the-road drivers. In addition, Bridgestone Americas experiences savings in fuel costs for long distance moves when it uses intermodal rail.  

Next Steps 

The company’s intermodal journey has evolved over many years into a core component of its distribution network. It continues to expand upon opportunities to utilize intermodal transportation, and relies on the partnership it has developed with CSXT Intermodal to identify additional freight suited for intermodal rail conversion. 

   

Click here to download the Bridgestone Americas case study PDF 

 

Additional Resources 

  

 

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