Schneider National is making a significant investment in its intermodal service with the creation of a company-owned and managed chassis fleet for railroad movements.

It says the new chassis fleet will help solve a long-lingering issue in the intermodal segment: consistent access to lightweight, quality chassis when and where shippers need them.

“Establishing a company-owned chassis fleet gives Schneider complete control of assets used in an intermodal move and makes our service even more efficient for shippers,” says Bill Matheson, president of Intermodal Services at Schneider. “Only a handful of transportation companies have invested in their own chassis fleets.”

In addition to addressing the problem of railroad owned chassis, which are often cited for poor quality, inconsistent availability and heavy weight, Schneider says investing in its own chassis fleet also allows more freight capacity per load, about 500 pounds.

The company also points out that the demand for chassis in shared pools often outstrips supply but its additional equipment increases supply, allowing it to precisely match the number of customer orders to equipment availability, while also giving it control over the maintenance of its chassis. This, it says, allows the company to maintain as well as identify issues and make repairs before they turn into critical breakdowns and costly delays.

“We’ve operated, maintained and managed tens of thousands of tractors, trailers and containers over the years,” says Matheson. “The addition of chassis to our equipment mix is a natural extension and once again demonstrates our commitment to Intermodal.”

Schneider took delivery of 600 chassis in late October and the new equipment has already been integrated into the company’s intermodal operations. The company expects to convert its entire North American intermodal operation to an owned-chassis model over the next two years.

The chassis purchase marks the third time in recent years that Schneider has heavily invested in its intermodal offering. The company invested in a container conversion in 2006 and completed its container tracking installation in August 2013.