When it comes to intermodal freight transport, drayage is a vital part of the process.
There’s simply no other way to reliably and conveniently transport shipping containers across short distances. A container needs to make the next major leg of its journey or be delivered to its final destination. The drayage process makes key links in the supply chain.
That makes finding the right drayage carrier especially important for importers and exporters alike. Keep the following considerations in mind as your business looks for a dependable drayage transport partner.
Key Qualities of High-Performing Drayage Carriers
Not sure if a potential partner is the right choice to take on intermodal transport tasks? Look into the following areas, ask questions, and don’t settle for anything but high-quality drayage service.
1. Drayage Qualifications and Experience
There are certain requirements that drivers and drayage carriers must meet to operate in intermodal ports and railyards. Making sure the drayage carrier you choose understands and aligns with those requirements is vital for success.
For individual drivers, a commercial driver’s license is an obvious and foundational need. Whether drivers work in intra-carrier drayage or inter-carrier drayage, they also need certain credentials. A Transportation Worker Identification Credential (issued by the TSA) is required to perform their duties in a port area. Similarly, drivers need to be registered in the Uniform Intermodal Interchange and Facilities Access Agreement (UIIA) intermodal driver database.
In terms of drayage companies, ensuring a partner carries the proper insurance is important. This not only protects your shipment, it helps to ensure efficient service. As CNS Insurance points out, motor carriers are not allowed to enter a port or railyard without insurance that meets UIIA requirements.
More generally, be sure to ask a potential partner about its collective drayage experience and that of individual drivers. Discussing familiarity with specific ports, railyards, and other intermodal hubs can also help.
Meeting insurance and legal operating requirements is obviously crucial. But that isn’t enough by itself to ensure thoughtful and efficient service. Be sure any potential drayage partner can speak with confidence about their relationships with intermodal hub management. They should be similarly descriptive about their ability to work efficiently within those hubs.
2. Commitment to Safety and Security
Intermodal drayage contract motor carriers operate in conditions that could quickly become dangerous if safety rules and regulations aren’t followed. Container drayage is a tightly controlled process, but it still includes potential risks if proper procedures aren’t followed.
The loading of a container onto a truck’s chassis, securing a load for transport, and other tasks require careful attention. Your company deserves to work with a drayage carrier that ensures staff know how to work safely.
Any drayage company your organization partners with must make safety a top priority. That’s important both for the health of drivers and the safety of your shipment.
Be sure your drayage partner makes a strong commitment to proper procedure and training. This can minimize incidents that could damage your shipment. It also demonstrates a level of care for and commitment to its employees, which is always positive.
High Value, But Not the Cheapest Drayage Carrier
Every partner your business works with should deliver value to some part of your operations.
There are several ways to assess value, including economic value. This definition from Investopedia can help expand on that concept. “Economic value is the value that person places on an economic good based on the benefit that they derive from the good.”
Another way of looking at value is to consider the intersection of quality and price. Is the overall quality of the drayage service your company receives worth the price paid for it?
In a highly regulated industry, finding the cheapest carrier likely doesn’t mean finding the best carrier. Consider all the rules and requirements put on a port logistics drayage carrier for ocean containers, for example. Especially low costs can stem from cutting corners, and that’s the last thing your organization wants to deal with.
Instead, identify potential partners that align with the other items on this list. With a group of high-quality carriers identified, you can then look at price differences between them.
4. Successfully Handling Time-Sensitive Tasks
Ensuring an intermodal container reaches its next (or final) destination at the right time and unharmed is the goal of every drayage service. On-time handling is simply critical in such a large and connected supply chain.
There will always be delays caused by the many modes of transportation used and other factors. These are out of a carrier’s control. However, your partner should have a strong overall track record in terms of timely delivery. If your organization regularly needs fast transport or delivery, it’s also worth discussing expedited drayage.
5. Responsiveness and Transparency
A great drayage partner makes it a point to communicate with clients and keep them informed of changes and updates. Similarly, these high-performing carriers make it easy to understand billing and rates.
Your business shouldn’t have to deal with a drayage service that doesn’t pick up the phone when you get an update that impacts the transport of a load. Nor should your company have to pore over invoices to determine if pricing is fair and consistent.
A valuable drayage carrier will take calls and regularly and proactively communicate with you about potential and emerging issues. They will also make it easy to check in on rates and understand each and every invoice. Be sure to ask a potential partner about both communication style and transparency in billing when making your choice.
A Drayage Carrier You Can Count on for California and the Port of Oakland
Iraheta Bros is proud to reliably serve clients importing and exporting from the Port of Oakland and across California.
We’re committed to driver safety, as well as the safe handling of your containers. We emphasize responsiveness for our clients and make rates and billing transparent and efficient. Our strong relationships with officials and personnel in the Port of Oakland make it easier for us to deliver loads on time. Our insurance and certifications are always up to date.