Intermodal shipping and several cutting-edge technologies are helping to strengthen U.S. supply chains and spur growth in the country's logistics sector. Some rail companies, including BNSF Railway and Union Pacific, have rolled out automated, energy-saving technologies such as remote temperature monitoring, aerodynamic technology for emissions reduction, GPS product tracking and zero-emissions electric cranes. "Rail has come a long way in the past 20 years. I think the biggest challenge is to get people to understand how it can be used effectively and it's never a one thing or another assessment. Understanding when to use rail -- intermodal or boxcar -- and when to use truck and the combination is going to give companies a leg up in the future," said Jason Spafford, vice president of business development for McKay TransCold.