Minimizing transportation costs is essential in the forest products industry, as the relatively low value and high weight of the products causes transportation to account for exceptionally high portion of the overall cost. The forest products such as logs, chips, and residues (woody biomass) are one of the major business sources in Michigan especially in Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Currently, truck transportation is used for the great majority of the trips, but it is believed that a more cost-efficient transportation chain might be achieved through use of multimodal approach by trucks and rail and in some cases water transportation.

This paper presents the three alternative transportation supply chain models for woody biomass transportation; 1) single mode, 2) multimodal and 3) intermediate storage. The paper uses data from three recent studies to describe the forest products transportation in the upper mid-west, including the typical distances for movements and the breakdown of cost elements for each alternative. It will discuss the potential benefits of increased use of rail as part of the transportation chain and address the perceived drawbacks and challenges caused by the shift. It will also present cost-gradient maps developed to highlight the capability of rail to expand the economical radius for obtaining feedstock and demonstrate how increasing fuel prices change the balance toward multimodal transportation. Finally, the paper will highlight the potential for gained efficiency in log truck operations through increased use of rail.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.