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Quantum Delivers a Differentiated Intermodal Experience

JBH truck, BNSF train, and Quantum Logo

At J.B. Hunt, we are not strangers to groundbreaking innovation. We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and providing value for our customers as we work toward our vision of creating the most efficient transportation network in North America. Nowhere is this more evident than in the evolution and growth of our intermodal services. 

Legacy of Strategic Innovation

Back in 1989, when trucking and rail companies were considered competitors, J.B. Hunt came together with BNSF (then Santa Fe Railway) to form a strategic alliance that forever changed transportation. Together, they developed a brand new and innovative service offering, called Quantum—which the transportation industry now simply refers to as intermodal. The growth of intermodal transportation was explosive and led to more innovations: double stacking containers, investing in company-owned chassis and adding onsite terminals and express gates. 

In 2022, J.B. Hunt re-affirmed its commitment to invest in intermodal by pledging to increase capacity and grow its intermodal fleet up to as many as 150,000 shipping containers by 2027. And now, we are once again re-imagining intermodal transportation with BNSF Railway by launching a new and groundbreaking intermodal service, named Quantum, in honor of the first iteration of the service.  

Convert your service-sensitive highway freight.

A New Kind of Intermodal Transportation

In the past, many customers with service-sensitive highway freight didn’t see intermodal as a viable shipping solution. They felt their supply chains needed more consistency and agility than traditional intermodal could provide. Because of this, they relied primarily on over-the-road transportation, which offered consistency and timeliness, but at a higher rate. 

As a joint offering with BNSF, Quantum is a breakthrough intermodal service that now provides the consistency, agility and speed that is needed to convert service-sensitive shipments from highway to railway freight. Customers can expect up to 95 percent on-time delivery approximately one day faster than traditional intermodal. They also are assigned dedicated customer service teams who oversee their shipments and keep their freight on track. By making intermodal a viable alternative for service-sensitive highway freight, Quantum also makes sustainable shipping even more accessible to customers, reducing a shipment’s carbon footprint by an average of 60 percent compared to highway transportation. 

Part of what makes Quantum service unique is the level of collaboration from both J.B. Hunt and BNSF operators. Together, we have developed a series of processes that form the foundation of Quantum service: planning, execution and oversight, and exception management. 

Planning

It all starts with a deep dive into the customer’s supply chain to gain a thorough understanding of their transportation needs. The planning phase kicks off by integrating forecasts to align dray, container and rail capacity with customer needs.  Then, priority drayage and rail movement provide faster and more consistent transits. J.B. Hunt and BNSF also work with customers to proactively develop service recovery plans that can quickly mitigate delays when a service interruption does occur. 

Execution and Oversight

The Quantum team is comprised of both J.B. Hunt and BNSF operators all working together from BNSF headquarters in Fort Worth. This team is integrated at every step of the intermodal process, providing 24/7 door-to-door oversight of every Quantum load. This allows the team to quickly and proactively identify, respond to and resolve issues as they arise, before they result in a customer delivery failure.  

Exception Management

When unexpected challenges do arise, the Quantum team is positioned to act quickly to mitigate or avoid a service failure all together. They rely on an escalation matrix established with the customer in the planning phase to inform their service recovery plan, while also proactively communicating with the customer to understand their current needs. Depending on the situation, they may update the load to expedited rail service, leverage alternate rail routings or convert to a highway solution. This dynamic mode selection creates the agility customers need to avoid or mitigate delays due to volume surges or production issues. 

Want to see how Quantum helps customers? Check out our case study.

Quantum: A Differentiated Intermodal Experience

Quantum creates the reliability and agility customers need to convert their service-sensitive highway shipments to the rail and allows them to benefit from the cost savings of intermodal, while also reducing their carbon footprint and maintaining the service, consistency and flexibility they need. It’s an intermodal experience that cannot be replicated by any other provider and it’s just one example of J.B. Hunt’s commitment to continue creating solutions and delivering value for its customers.  

Contact us today to learn more and discover if Quantum is right for your supply chain.