Capacity Crunch in Drayage

Much has been written lately about the domestic trucking capacity problem.  The strong economy combined with the aging driver population and increasing regulations have made finding domestic capacity challenging for many cargo types and lanes.

While the shortage has been evident in domestic long haul and bulk truck segments, capacity for the drayage of international shipments is also tight, particularly for specialized services such as bulk liquids and hazardous materials.  There is limited availability of drivers who are haz-mat certified, or who have a liquid bulk/tank endorsement to haul liquid or liquid gas in a cargo tank rated at 119 gallons or more, or a portable tank rated at 1,000 gallons or more.

Congestion at marine terminals and rail facilities across North America has grown as a result of newer/larger ships, and dray carriers are working hard to keep up, since time spent at idle counts against a driver’s hours of service.  The ELD mandate, which went into place on December 18th, may further impact availability as drivers may decline moves beyond 500 miles (round trip) to remain compliant in their hours of service while maximizing asset utilization.

While there may be some improvement in the beginning of 2018 as drivers return from holiday vacations, the industry structural issues of port congestion and an inadequate supply of trained drivers, particularly those with special certifications, are long term concerns.  Unlike long haul shipments which may have rail alternatives, there are fewer alternatives to drayage as a mode.

What can stakeholders do to help the situation:

  • Limit the number of changes to an order which may put shipments back into a queue for carriers.
  • Keep load/discharge appointments as close to what was originally set up with motor carriers.
  • Load/discharge within the allotted ‘free’ time, which is typically 2 hours.
  • Ensure all relevant paperwork and shipping documents are complete and accurate.
  • Provide shipping forecasts to Odyssey,  to communicate with carrier partners downstream
  • Be as specific as possible about any special loading or discharge requirements in advance.

Odyssey will continue to optimize our network to minimize disruptions to our clients’ schedules.