Unless you work for a railroad, factory, warehouse, or mine, rail siding isn’t a term with which you’re likely familiar. Rail siding is a railroad term used to describe a section of track off the main line where rail cars are sometimes dropped or exchanged.
As it relates to public warehousing specifically, rail siding refers to the warehouse’s capacity to access freight arriving by train. Assuming that the public warehouse is situated next to a railroad line, they’ll likely advertise rail siding. If the warehouse isn’t situated adjacent a main line and freight is arriving or being shipped via railcar, the shipment will have to be transported to and from the railroad to the warehouse on a truck.
A public warehouse offering rail siding will typically have one of two types:
- Outdoor Rail Siding
Outdoor rail siding is pretty straightforward. The train carrying freight destined for that warehouse location would drop the car (or cars) at the siding site of the warehouse. Warehouse personnel would then unload the freight from the stationary cars and manually move the pallets of freight into the warehouse where the pallets would be inventoried just like a shipment arriving on a truck.
- Benefits of outdoor rail siding:
- Because of the close proximity to the warehouse, customers are able to move large volumes of freight via railcar without needing to have the freight moved on to a truck and shipped to the warehouse.
- Depending on the type and quantity of freight, rail delivery may be more cost effective than moving that same freight via truckload.
- Detriments of outdoor rail siding:
- While incidents are rare, security can be a concern for freight delivered via railcar during off-hours. Most warehouses aren’t staffed 24/7, so freight residing in railcars that have been dropped after hours are vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and weather.
- Indoor Rail Siding
Indoor rail siding means that the train carrying the freight destined for that warehouse location would drop the car (or cars) inside the actual warehouse. Warehouse personnel would then unload the freight from the stationary cars and move the pallets of freight on to the shelves via forklift.
- Benefits of indoor rail siding:
- Freight is moved from the car to the shelf much more quickly as the extra time to move the freight from the outdoor site into the warehouse is eliminated
- Security is not an issue as rail cars are stored indoors and are protected by the same security measures as the physical building.
- Freight is protected from weather and the elements. This is particularly beneficial to paper and metal-based products that are vulnerable to water and rust.
Most of your public warehousing decisions will likely be made based on the type and quantity of products you plan to store. Rail siding is just one more tool you can now use to make the best decision for your particular product’s needs.
For more great warehousing tips, download: “The Secret Costs of Warehousing.”