Maximizing Efficiency: The Role of Technology in Streamlining Drayage Operations

By
Golden State Logistics

Drayage is an incredibly important component of the supply chain. Efficient drayage operations ensure that containers reach their destinations in a timely fashion, making customers and end-users happy.

But drayage, a type of short-haul trucking where trucks take cargo from ports or rail yards to distribution centers or warehouses, can still suffer from inefficiency because the industry hasn’t fully harnessed technology’s ability to streamline drayage operations. Instead, the industry often relies on manually-based systems, which can hinder the industry from sufficiently growing capacity to meet future demand and provide elasticity to the network.

That said, companies like Golden State Logistics (GSL) are taking drayage operations to the next level, using technological innovation to improve drayage operations significantly and reduce shippers' environmental footprint.

Drayage as a Potential Choke Point in Supply Chain

Shippers rely on drayage to move containers from U.S. ports, such as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to their inland stops for processing, warehouse storage, and distribution.

The containers holding U.S. imports get transported inland to a warehouse, distribution center, or rail yard. Coordinating this transport involves a dispatcher and a truck driver using manually-based methods (such as phone calls or tech solutions (such as apps)  to stay in contact and convey information. For instance, at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, each of the 12 terminals has a website where a dispatcher might be able to make an appointment for a truck pickup or drop-off, and a dispatcher will relay that information about any various appointments to the truck driver.

But here’s where shippers might face challenges under a system still heavily reliant on manually-based operations. Shippers might experience inefficient procedures when setting up pickup appointments because the ports have no consolidated appointment system. Or, they might face uncertainty about the status of their containers’ whereabouts because there is no real-time information providing that visibility. Furthermore, inefficient routing and dispatching can result in delays and longer transit times, which, in turn, might result in increased costs.

Access to real-time information about container availability via apps or other technological tools might reduce any confusion or mistakes made in the communication chain between dispatchers and drivers.

Technological Solutions to Streamline Drayage Operations

To address some of these challenges that arise from manually-based systems, innovative tech developers are working on tools that promote real-time tracking, automated dispatching, and digital documentation systems.

Indeed, a new crop of tech companies is achieving success in creating innovative technologies for drayage. For instance, PortPro has custom-tailored operating systems for drayage trucking companies and brokers that seek to improve communication between carriers, brokers, and shippers, track containers, and automate terminal appointments and order entries, among other offerings.

Meanwhile, companies like MercuryGate are creating transport management systems (TMS) that give shippers visibility into their containers’ locations. By providing visibility, TMS tools help shippers lower costs and reduce waiting times.

The Broader Impact: How Efficient Drayage Benefits the Entire Supply Chain

There are other benefits to investing in technological innovation aimed at streamlining drayage operations: these same tools can also help businesses comply with state and federal mandates to lower carbon emissions.

Improved drayage efficiency reduces the environmental impact of drayage operations. Being more intentional about when and where trucks go to pick up containers can minimize truck idling and help companies and brokers be compliant with existing and future emissions regulations. It can also help companies better monitor how their drayage fleets are meeting emissions reporting requirements, such as those that are part of the California Air Resources Board’s Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which calls for using environmentally friendly combustion engine vehicles.

Indeed, at GSL, we’re working to make drayage operations more efficient so that they can contribute to creating a more sustainable and reliable supply chain.

Golden State Logistics: Pioneering Efficiency in Drayage Operations

At GSL, we’re exploring innovative solutions like real-time tracking and automated systems, both of which can significantly improve drayage operations.

For instance, each power unit of our fleet is equipped with telematics that provide real-time information, enabling the customer to have instant access to proof-of-delivery documents.

To better coordinate asset availability, we offer customers the ability to integrate their interface system with our EDI or API. We also provide shippers the ability to navigate the dozen terminals and chassis providers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach can do so through our interface.

Embracing a Technology-Forward Approach in Drayage with GSL

Technological innovations within drayage have the potential to streamline drayage operations and benefit the supply chain. Technology can reduce delays, better position truck resources and other drayage assets, and provide visibility into where containers might be located.

GSL is striving toward integrating technological solutions to solve operational inefficiencies within drayage. We want companies to experience efficient first-mile operations so that they and others along the supply chain can reap the environmental and sustainable benefits.

Contact us to learn how your business can partner with GSL to realize state-of-the-art drayage solutions.

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