This past winter and spring it wasn’t unusual to wait two weeks or more to have your container pulled from a port or rail head due to capacity, weather or length of haul.  If your inventory is sitting on a container you cannot complete your customers’ orders.  If you operate more than one distribution center, it gets rather expensive to ship from multiple warehouses to complete one order.  If you don’t have inventory, then your customer’s will go find what they need from someone else.

While there is no secret formula or solution for container drayage delays, there are a few steps you can take to help accelerate your supply-chain.  The first one is to notify your drayman or drayage management group as soon as the containers are on the water.  You should also provide the expected arrival date of the ship.  If you need the product or a commodity on a specific container(s), please alert the drayage management team or drayman to prioritize the delivery of that container or containers.  Unfortunately, many companies rely on one or two draymen to handle their containers.  While that management philosophy works well when the weather isn’t a factor and capacity isn’t tight, it can become a formula for disaster in a capacity environment like the market is in right now.    

Another option to consider is terminating the container at the closest port or railhead to your distribution center or customer.  The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate causes delay issues with facilities more than one hundred air miles from a destination port.  Many drayage operations are staffed by owner-operators.  Most drayage owner-operators don’t have ELD’s, as they are not required if they drive less than one hundred air miles from a port.   Usually there are a couple of drivers who have an ELD, but the demand is greater than the supply.  If your delivery point requires a tractor-trailer equipped with an ELD, it can delay delivery by a few days.  Many port carriers now operate via a drop and pick method where the owner-operators without electronic logging devices pull and drop the containers in the carrier yard.  The container is then picked up by a driver with an ELD or trans-loaded to a truckload carrier for delivery.

Using a third-party provider gives you more options. Container drayage management providers partner with multiple draymen.  Their extensive partner networks help keep your inventory flowing when capacity is tight.  If a hot product or plant shutdown item is on a container, the drayage management group has many more resources to tap versus a drayman with a limited number of drivers.  If you import or export containers via multiple ports, it makes even more sense to outsource your drayage. At Kinetic Supply-Chain Services, we specialize in multiple port operations.  We provide trans-loading, hazardous materials, tri-axle and overweight permitted drayage services from seventy-five domestic ports.  We have over eighty-five years of combined drayage and port experience.  When you add up your administrative costs with lost container access, our drayage management services will save you money and time in the long run.