Drayage Visibility: Why Focusing on the First Mile Optimizes Inland Distribution

Drayage Visibility: Why Focusing on the First Mile Optimizes Inland Distribution

With every segment of the supply chain where another party is in control of the shipment, there is the opportunity for improved visibility. As the freight moves from one carrier to the next, it all happens outside the shipper’s view, which means the shipper must rely on visibility tools to know where the shipment is and its current status. This is true for drayage the same as it is for shipments crossing the ocean, but drayage is more often neglected when it comes to visibility efforts. Drayage starts the supply chain’s inland distribution as the first mile and depending on the level of visibility that shippers have, it can be the source of extra costs and delays, or it can contribute to low costs, efficiency, and optimization that carry through to the last mile. 

What is Drayage Visibility?

The term drayage has different definitions, but in this context, it refers to the short transport of a shipping container, recently unloaded from the ocean vessel, to the warehouse facility where the next leg of the journey can continue, such as with a long-haul truck. The empty container and chassis must be returned to the port. Drayage visibility is receiving real-time updates and information on this process that the shipper can use for planning and action.

There are several milestone events in the ocean shipping process that affect drayage, such as:

  1. Vessel arrival at the destination port
  2. Discharged from the vessel at the destination port
  3. Gate out full from destination port
  4. Gate in empty return

The potential is to use drayage visibility into these types of events for reducing costs like demurrage and detention and getting shipments delivered faster. For drayage carriers, it’s a complex process to get chassis and containers where they need to go. As carriers handle the details, drayage visibility allows shippers to maintain an awareness of their freight in the process. 

How Does Poor Drayage Visibility Lead to Problems?

When shippers lack visibility surrounding drayage, it creates problems and inefficiencies for their supply chains. They don’t have the information they need to plan effectively and manage their shipments arriving at the destination port in a timely manner. Perhaps the most noticeable consequence is the fees associated with delaying to have containers and chassis picked up and returned on time. Shipping lines provide free time before they begin charging demurrage, typically a few days. Outside these free days, it’s a costly fee for every day the container remains at the port. These fees are designed to discourage delays, so they increase every few days, and it adds up quickly. Detention, or per diem, is the other significant source of fees. Once the container is picked up to be destuffed, every day past the given free days results in added detention fees until the container is returned.

The problem with demurrage and detention is their effects are bigger than additional freight costs. These delays influence each subsequent part of the supply chain. When freight isn’t available to schedule for inland distribution, using full truckload, LTL, intermodal, or rail, this changes the shipper’s demands for carrier capacity and warehousing. Distribution becomes less optimized because of the new time constraints, and the bottom line suffers as a result. At the same time, customers are likely to notice delays and experience frustrations.

Drayage Relies on Forecasting and Visibility

Each of these challenges could be diminished by visibility data to help reactive processes become proactive and efficient. Shippers can find out about issues and delays sooner to plan better. To be proactive, shippers need accurate forecasting. They can ensure they have the available resources to manage demands, like warehouse space or carrier capacity to avoid keeping their containers waiting and accumulating demurrage and detention costs. Any changes in capacity or changes to the cargo’s ETA at the destination port can be addressed so the rest of the supply chain can avoid unnecessary risk. Real-time visibility data gives shippers as much advance notice as possible for them to respond quickly. Paired with forecasting, drayage visibility can help reduce risk.

Improve Drayage Efficiency with a Visibility Solution

Shippers can create a more optimized supply chain when they have the solutions they need for an efficient first mile that starts with drayage. Through a convenient and easy-to-integrate API, VIZION provides visibility data for drayage and ocean freight. Shippers can reduce the costs of demurrage and detention with an informed fee management strategy and reduce risk to the rest of the supply chain. To learn more about improving drayage visibility, contact VIZION today to book a demo.

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