Companies in this industry provide inland water transportation of cargo on US lakes, rivers, or intracoastal waterways. Major companies include independents, such as American Commercial Lines, Ingram Barge, and Kirby Inland Marine, and captive subsidiaries of companies that transport commodities, such as American River Transportation (owned by Archer Daniels Midland).
The US inland water freight transportation industry includes about 330 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $8 billion.
The industry does not include companies that provide transportation of cargo on the Great Lakes System; those operations are covered in the Coastal and Great Lakes Freight Transportation profile.
Demand is driven primarily by the level of agricultural exports, petroleum refining, coal usage, and chemical shipments. Large companies have advantages in handling a broad range of cargo types, along with economies of scale in purchasing and marketing. Small companies compete by specializing in particular cargo types or services, subcontracting to larger companies, and offering responsive customer service. The US industry is highly concentrated: the largest 50 companies generate about 95% of industry revenue.
Inland barge companies compete with other methods for transporting bulk materials and liquids, including trucks, railroads, and pipelines.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major services are freight transportation (75% of industry revenue) and towing and tugboat services (20%).
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