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Six Steps to Streamlined Container Drayage

December 8, 2023

When most people think about container shipping, they envision the movement of the container on different modalities; road, rail, or sea. It’s easy to forget about drayage despite its tremendous importance on shipping costs, transportation times, and the ability to utilize multi-modal shipping effectively. Drayage is one of the shipper’s most critical supply chain considerations but is too often overlooked.

The simple definition of drayage (often called “the first mile”) is the movement of containers between modes of transportation. A container's movement from the port to the railyard would be considered drayage, and an inefficient drayage operation between the two could result in extra fees, delays, and operational inefficiency.

Streamlined container drayage is the answer to solving this operational inefficiency, reducing costs, and improving customer service. Shippers that improve drayage performance see a supply chain transformation.

For Today’s Shippers, Effective Drayage Performance Is More Easily Said than Done

Along with the importance of drayage efficiency for shippers wishing to perform more efficiently and delight customers, it is also one of their most significant struggles in developing an effective intermodal supply chain.

The essential components of effective drayage management that shippers often lack include: 

  • Visibility: Shippers with limited visibility often end up with containers lost at a port or rail yard for a period, which drives up costs. If a shipper doesn’t know the exact location of each container now, many may be sitting in ports or terminals for too long.
  • Communication: Where communication and collaboration are constrained, inefficiency is the result. When collaboration breaks down, adverse events start stacking upon themselves. Shippers spend too much time on inefficient and inaccurate communication, compounding operational challenges.
  • Capacity: The trucking market is short over 80,000 drivers, and the situation only continues to deteriorate, driving costs higher and constraining capacity. A shipper falls subject to highly variable capacity fulfillment unless working with a partner that offers a vast network.

When prioritizing six features of efficient operations that are components of the digital supply chain, drayage performance increases exponentially.

1) Real-Time Container Visibility

One of the most significant causes of drayage inefficiency is unnoticed containers at the port or terminal. Even catching the situation the next day could result in compounding delays due to an inability to find capacity. That container also requires additional management that could have been avoided.

Using OpenTrack’s real-time container tracking solution, shippers quickly know the locations of their containers, access ETAs, and see exceptions, enabling more accurate dispatching and routing. They go beyond a blue dot on a screen.

2) Efficient Dispatching and Routing

When dispatching and routing systems are automated, they optimize container drayage operations. An automated solution scans for a fit and automatically connects the shipper and carrier, relieving shippers of inefficient calling or online scanning to find a capacity.

The need to contact haulers is eliminated when a system with complete visibility sees where a container is moving and where it needs to go and arranges the drayage operation. With OpenTrack, drivers are automatically assigned based on optimal efficiency routes.

3) Collaboration and Communication

A container doesn’t move efficiently if stakeholders are left in the dark about its whereabouts or if miscommunication has occurred. With the complexity of supply chains, collaboration only happens when stakeholders are in the know now. An hour too late could mean the difference between a container movement that happens today or one or two days later, accumulating expensive fees. Precise communication needs to happen now for effective container drayage services.

OpenTrack’s platform alerts stakeholders to events in real time. There is no time wasted calling or potential for conveying inaccurate information. Every stakeholder has the same data simultaneously, ensuring efficient operations.

4) Automated Documentation and Paperwork

Manual paperwork and documentation are time-consuming and inefficient, only slowing container drayage operations and leaving a container to be moved later rather than sooner. When time-wasting paperwork is automated, not only does it save time, mistakes are eliminated. Paperwork is never a reason for a container’s delayed drayage.

5) Performance Analytics and Reporting

It’s impossible to improve future performance without knowledge of past performance. An effective analytics solution takes data from real-time visibility and uses it to provide performance analysis. Shippers gain the power of foresight and proactive approaches. They confront drayage problems before they happen.

OpenTrack’s data analytics provide shippers with the needed insights into their key performance metrics, opening up the world of data-driven decision-making.

6) Integration With Intermodal Operations

Intermodal freight transport offers considerable benefits, with the potential to significantly reduce costs and environmental footprint, but those benefits might be derailed if container drayage efficiency is poor. Freight doesn’t move efficiently from the terminal or rail yard if it sits at a port waiting to get there.

Integration of a solution to improve drayage performance needs to be seamless, providing visibility across all transportation modes and working with existing systems.

In-house software development is expensive, time-consuming, and not guaranteed to scale. In contrast, an API integrates with existing tech stacks, scales, integrates seamlessly and quickly, works with global carriers, and standardizes information.

OpenTrack’s API covers 97% of global shipments, standardizing data to simplify drayage container operations and tremendously increasing effectiveness.

For Effective Drayage, the Right Partner is Key

Savvy shippers realize that going digital offers incredible benefits for all operations, including drayage, through visibility and automation. They move faster, achieve operational efficiency, and save money. Customer service levels jump as shipments arrive on time.

With the move of shippers to the digital supply chain has come a tremendous amount of tech providers offering varied solutions, and not all are created equal. Finding the right partner is essential for an effective drayage solution.

The chosen partner must bring streamlined integration, real-time visibility, and automated exception notifications to the table. An effective solution needs to scale with the shipper and simplify drayage operations.

Drayage Doesn’t Need To Be Hard

Shippers that partner with the right tech provider realize drayage effectiveness, resulting in efficient container movements, savings, and customer service excellence.

An easily integrated and deployed API enables organizations to:

  • See their containers in real time
  • Increase dispatch and routing efficiency
  • Realize access to capacity
  • Improve collaboration and communication with stakeholders
  • Automate documentation and paperwork to save time and eliminate errors
  • Know their performance and supply chain effectiveness, fostering proactivity
  • Take advantage of intermodal savings and sustainability

A shipper’s containers move efficiently to and from ports, terminals, and rail yards, saving money and time. The streamlined management of drayage frees employees to focus on other operational issues.

Managing drayage needn’t be hard. Working with the right partner, shippers simplify drayage complexity and take supply chain control.

OpenTrack provides shippers with an API that easily integrates with existing tech stacks to transform their operations and control drayage operations with real-time visibility, automation, analysis, and push notifications to stakeholders. With coverage of more than 97% of global shipments and standardized data, shippers receive real-time data they can trust.

Drayage is simplified with OpenTrack as a partner.

Book a demo with OpenTrack today to see what streamlined drayage looks like.

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