US: Ford rail transport copes with new high roof Transits
- Innovative new railcar for vehicle shipping accommodates the variety of Transit roof heights
- Optimised mix of rail and truck transport provides the most efficient delivery time and lowest shipping cost, and supports automaker’s Blueprint for Sustainability by using resources responsibly and minimising environmental impact
- Transit launches in US and Canada this summer
Special rail cars were developed to accommodate all Transit roof heights
Ford is taking a new approach to shipping its new 'European' full-size Transit cargo vans and wagons to dealerships across North America ahead of launch later this summer. The 'One Ford' model line gradually will replace the NAFTA E-series range.
The high-roof Transit measures 110.1 inches tall, enabling customers as tall as 6 feet 4 inches to stand upright in their vehicles, but it also challenged engineers to develop an innovative vehicle shipping solution.
The automaker ships vehicles from its assembly plants to dealerships using a mix of railcars and trucks. The new medium- and high-roof vans are too tall to fit in the common two-storey railcars used by auto manufacturers, so Ford engineers worked with railroads and railcar manufacturers to design an innovative railcar that accommodates all the roof height variations of the new Transit.
"Use of these modified railcars helps us to efficiently ship these large vehicles from our assembly plant, deliver them to our dealers and get them into the hands of our customers faster and more cost effectively,” said Ford vehicle logistics manager Chris Lemmink.
The innovation allows Ford to ship Transits through the right mix of rail and truck transport to help reduce delivery time and cost. The company evaluated using trucks only but determined that it could deliver vehicles more efficiently and for less cost by designing modified railcars and incorporating them into the shipping network.
The optimised balance of rail and truck transport also supports the automaker’s Blueprint for Sustainability by using resources responsibly and minimising environmental impact.
Ford plans to transport Transits by truck to dealers within a 500 mile (800km) radius of the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, where the new van line is produced. Shipments traveling longer than 500 miles will be transported by rail.
Ford worked with leading rail companies to modify Transit railcars by elevating its inner deck, enabling as many as seven medium- and high-roof Transit vehicles to be loaded on the lower deck and as many as seven smaller vehicles, like the Fusion, on the shorter top deck, depending on the vehicle’s length. The overall height of the railcar remains the same as traditional railcars, so as not to interfere with overpasses and tunnels.