Published: 12/10/2023

Mastering Drayage Import: Expert Tips for a Smooth Cargo Journey

Importing goods can often feel like navigating a labyrinth, with many steps and considerations. Yet amidst its complexities, one often underestimated aspect is drayage – the pivotal process of transporting containerized cargo over short distances.  As a business seeking to optimize your import shipments, you may find yourself looking for new ways to ensure a […]

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Importing goods can often feel like navigating a labyrinth, with many steps and considerations. Yet amidst its complexities, one often underestimated aspect is drayage – the pivotal process of transporting containerized cargo over short distances. 

As a business seeking to optimize your import shipments, you may find yourself looking for new ways to ensure a seamless and efficient drayage experience. At White Star Logistics Inc., we’ve been in the industry for over eight years, providing critical logistics solutions for businesses’ unique drayage needs. To help you navigate drayage like a pro, we have put together some valuable tips from our team of experts. Let’s take a look:

1. Stay Informed & Be Proactive

To ensure a smooth import process, it’s crucial to stay on top of any holds or releases that may affect your cargo. By keeping a watchful eye on the port/ramp or SSL (Steamship Line) website, you can stay ahead of the curve with crucial updates on customs clearance, as well as FDA/USDA inspections, SSL restrictions, and terminal holds. Remember, timing is of the essence, so making prompt payment settlements is an absolute must to avoid any unnecessary delays. 

But that’s not all, keeping an eye out for arrival notices from the SSL and ensuring they reach you at the correct email addresses is key. Trust us when we say, that mastering the art of monitoring and seizing control of every step in the import process, will surely pave the way for successful and hassle-free cargo transportation.

2. Make the Most of Your Last Free Day (LFD)

In the world of drayage, understanding and utilizing your Last Free Day (LFD) can make a huge difference. Take a moment to delve into the details of your LFD, as it holds the key to optimizing your equipment usage and ensuring your operations run smoothly.

The Last Free Day refers to the final day you have before the clock starts ticking on charges after the container is out of the port/rail. It is crucial to have a firm grasp on this important deadline to maximize your allocated free time. Typically, the LFD ranges from two to five days, depending on the contract you have with the SSL and the type of equipment being used. 

Imagine the advantage of having those precious extra days to complete your tasks without incurring additional costs! By double-checking and staying vigilant with your LFD, you gain the luxury of extra time to unload cargo or address any unexpected issues that may arise.

3. Plan Ahead

Prevention is vital, so be proactive in your planning by securing rates and trucker availability well in advance. Aim to issue Delivery Orders at least a week before your container’s estimated arrival time (ETA). Pulling containers at least two days before the LFD provides a buffer for any unforeseen circumstances, such as trucker breakdowns, port congestion, weather disruptions, or equipment/chassis shortages. And remember, things rarely go exactly as planned, so scheduling delivery appointments ahead of time will greatly contribute to a smooth process.

4. Leverage Resources for Success

SSLs are absolute goldmines of information when it comes to crucial details such as estimated time of arrivals, any holds on shipments and missing documentation. Instead of relying solely on guesswork, reach out to these professionals directly to seek clarification and stay in the loop regarding any updates. 

Moreover, it’s essential to be aware of the permissible time frame allotted for returning containers to the port to avoid unpleasant surprises in the form of per diem charges (detention). Remember, time is of the essence, which is why it’s paramount to select a drayage vendor that provides prompt communication and regular updates. By establishing clear and timely lines of communication, you can effectively annihilate minor issues and prevent them from snowballing into major problems.

Drayage-import

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To ensure a truly seamless drayage experience, make sure to provide your drayage vendor with all necessary paperwork, including:

  • Delivery Order 
  • Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), if the shipment is hazardous 
  • Packing list for OT and out-of-gauge containers 
  • Consignee Contact Information

Keep in mind that it’s also wise to have a contingency plan in case of any container damage or cargo shifts during transit. Additionally, consider working with vendors who offer trans-loading solutions in case of cargo re-consignment or receiving constraints.

By incorporating these tips into your drayage process you will help guarantee a hassle-free and effective experience for your import shipments. Remember, at White Star Logistics Inc., we specialize in offering tailored drayage solutions to cater to your individual needs. So if you are interested in receiving a personalized quote that perfectly aligns with your freight shipping requirements, click here to access our pricing tool. Your cargo’s smooth ride awaits! 

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