Drayage Service Challenges: Tips for Seamless Shipping

05/16/2024 by Christine Morris

Drayage Service Challenges: Tips for Seamless Shipping

You can consider drayage service the unsung hero of shipping. It’s crucial to global supply chains, bridging the gap for both intermodal and international shipments.

Growing businesses often develop a need for drayage services but can easily get overwhelmed by it. Unlike truckload or less-than-truckload (LTL), getting your items picked up and delivered with drayage shipping sometimes isn’t a straightforward process. From port congestion to demurrage, it’s easy to get lost in the tangled process of drayage. Yet, with a few quick tips and the right approach, you can make use of drayage services to your supply chain’s advantage.  


Route Planning

One of the primary challenges faced by shippers handling drayage services is route planning. Ports and rail terminals often operate in congested cities with lots of traffic and frequent road closures. Poor route planning can lead to delays, missed appointments, increased fuel consumption, additional fees, and, most of all, frustrated customers.

Chassis/Equipment Shortages

Just like there can be ebbs and flows with truck trailer capacity, drayage brings the concern of its own equipment shortages. Chassis are what the containers sit on when hauled by the carriers. It’s important to mention that drayage carriers don’t own chassis. Instead, they rent the chassis from the port or terminal, thus adding an additional complexity to drayage services. Chassis shortages most often happen during peak shipping seasons and can create delays or additional costs for shippers.

Port or Terminal Delays

Delays can happen at the ports or terminals for several reasons. Unforeseen events like canal blockages (Suez Canal), the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, or possible rail strikes have most recently created delays for shippers. Customs clearance is often the most common cause of delays as the process can be intensive, and any improper documentation or misclassified products can cause a holdup. Container reshuffling can also be an issue from time to time when there are too many containers, whether full or empty, at the ports or terminals.

Additional Charges

Additional charges may be the bane of drayage services, second to delays. Drayage can come with many accessorial fees that can catch shippers off guard if not prepared. The most common fee you’ll hear about in drayage services is demurrage.

Once a container is delivered to the port or terminal, you’re given a set number of “free days” for it to be picked up by a drayage carrier. This is called your Last Free Day (LFD), and that’s the date you want to ensure your container is picked up so you won’t face this additional charge.

There are also drop fees. Drop fees are for when the drayage carrier must drop the container and then come back to pick it up and return it empty to the port or terminal.

Lastly, if the empty container is returned late to the port or terminal, that’s an additional fee.  

Lack of Transparency or Communication

With drayage services, you really need to have a clear picture of what’s happening if you want to reduce the chance of accruing any additional charges, not to mention any delivery delays or customer dissatisfaction. Effective communication between shippers, carriers, logistics providers, and port or terminal authorities is essential for smooth drayage shipping.


If you’ve experienced any of the previously mentioned challenges with drayage service, the great news is there are really only two tips you need to make it seamless.

Proper Planning and Time Management

Most of the challenges with drayage are caused by improper planning, unforeseen circumstances, or misinterpretation at the port. Proper time management and planning are essential to avoid those challenges in the first place. Ensuring you have properly evaluated and documented your freight, selecting the right drayage carrier based on your needs, and taking into consideration factors like port or terminal timings or traffic.

Additionally, stay in the know of what’s going on in the market. Are there any anticipated delays or disruptions that could change your plans? Do you have a contingency plan in place should an unforeseen event occur? The more planning you’ve made ahead of your drayage shipment, the better your supply chain will operate.  

Work with the Right Drayage Provider

Working with the right provider can significantly impact the success of your drayage service. While that tip is easy to state, how do you determine if a provider is the right one for your needs?

When searching for a drayage service provider, you should ensure they:

  • Gain you access to reliable capacity with experienced carriers,
  • Offer excellent customer service and clear and timely communication,
  • Technology tools to provide you with shipment visibility and tracking,
  • Accurate billing practice,
  • And has a high on-time delivery percentage.

By prioritizing these characteristics when looking for a drayage service provider to work with, you’ll quickly find that selecting the right one will improve your company’s competitiveness and service by helping you overcome these common challenges.


Speaking of reliable drayage service providers, you’re currently hot in your search already!

Trinity Logistics is a nationwide, top-rated third-party logistics (3PL) provider capable of helping you overcome any challenges you’ve been facing with your drayage service. You should consider us because:

Trustworthy Carrier Relationships

We treat and respect our carrier relationships and aim to build a strong partnership with each one to help their businesses be successful. Because of that, we’ve built trusted partnerships with those in our carrier network, gaining you access to the capacity you need and the service you want.

24/7/365 Support

No matter what happens, we’re ready to support you around the clock. We have a dedicated After-Hours Team to continue the monitoring of your freight and are ready to quickly resolve potential challenges, no matter the time of night, holidays, and every weekend.

Tracking and Tracing

We understand transparency is key to your drayage success, so we offer several ways to view and keep track of your freight, no matter the time of day.

Team of Experts

Our only job is logistics. It’s what we handle day in and day out. We’ve been working in this industry for 45 years and have seen all the ups, downs, delays, and disruptions the freight market has thrown at us, so we know how to handle tough situations. Additionally, we stay knowledgeable about what’s going on and keep you informed of anything that could come your way, with a backup plan at the ready.

Clear Communication About Charges

From the start, we are transparent about costs and help you understand all the different charges that you may see or come across with drayage service.

Your Trinity relationship will provide a list of any potential charges that may arise, such as any overweight, drop, or hazmat fees. Our goal is to ensure you know exactly what to expect so there are never any surprises.

An additional benefit to our trusted carrier relationships is our capability of keeping any fees from the port tied to the clearance of any containers from being billed back to you and being able to be competitive with those drayage rates.

Yes, drayage services can be complex and challenging at times, but it doesn’t have to be if you choose to work with Trinity Logistics.