Inland Transportation & Container Management: The Dream Scenario
In addition to the Domestic Intermodal door-to-door services that InTek Freight & Logistics offers, InTek also offers a service offering that has been perfected an Inland Transportation and Container Management Program for imported steamship containers. The service is a solution to a myriad of issues that face an importer, as their containers delivered to a single or multiple inland locations. Several aspects of inland container movement must take into consideration to develop a customized solution for each importer on the program.
The operational considerations in a Transportation and Container management solution are almost too numerous to list, and most especially on the West Coast. An importer/receiver needs a single source solution inland program to control costs and keep "out of program expenses" to a minimum.
With a well designed inland container program, the "Dream Scenario" outlined below leads to an efficient and cost effective inland solution.
The Dream Scenario
- InTek Freight & Logistics is notified of inbound containers 3-5 days prior to vessel arrival. This notification is generally provided by the shipper’s Broker.
- The Delivery Orders (DO) for each imported container are then shared with our transportation partner we employ for the port work.
- InTek then updates our in-house inbound tracking report and conveys this information to the receiving party.
- The receiver then identifies which containers to pull from the port, aligned within demurrage free time, which is generally 4 days from vessel discharge date.
- InTek then coordinates the inland move with our transportation partner and the container is delivered to the destination for either a live unloaded or dropped.
- While all these events are occurring, InTek continually monitors / performs the following;
- We are updating and sending daily tracking reports to the receiver, which includes the port LFD along the container/chassis LFD.
- InTek monitors and sends a “free time expiration” alert to the receiver prior to the expiration of free time on containers that have been dropped for unloading. This monitoring is key for the receiver to plan their offloading schedules to hold "out of program" costs to a minimum.
- InTek consistently and constantly communicates all port delays, equipment issues, customs clearance issues, or capacity support issues to the receiver in a timely manner.
- On drop and hook accounts, InTek pulls empty containers from the daily empty list provided by the receiver. Actual notification of an empty container and two business days to terminate the unit back at the terminal.
- The container and chassis are then terminated within the allowed free time and all is right with the world.
While this sounds easy, shippers may ask why do they need InTek when they can just work directly with a single carrier. Shippers would be spot on if the inland scenario described above went perfect every day on every container. Unfortunately, reality raises its ugly head on a regular basis and "Murphy's Law" comes to play. As such, it becomes a welcomed relief to have InTek manage this entire process, as a "Single Source Solution", so the shipper can do their job.
In an effort to put how "Murphy's Law" comes to play, let's walk through a recent situation at the LA/LB port. The scenario identifies several issues that must be addressed with virtually every container, every day. A side note regarding the Port of LA/LB is the port instituted a fee known as Pier Pass, which was implement 10 years ago. It is a fee based on TEU’s, which must be paid if imported containers are pulled from the Port dayside. The pass was created to influence receivers to take loads during the evening where the Pier Pass Fee is waived. The rationale for Pier Pass included revenue benefits for the port, as well as, reducing port congestion, traffic, pollution and to create a better quality of life in and around Southern California. Due to the Pier Pass fee, most receivers in S. CA require or request night time pickups and deliveries in order to eliminate the additional cost of dayside pickups, although if not managed, the dray provider will pull all day and night, without regard to the fee.
The Actual, Pretty Much Everyday Scenario at the Port of LA/LB
- Port Congestion-despite the laudable efforts of Pier Pass.
- Hours of Service concerns for the trucking companies and their drivers.
- Labor issues, which are of continuing concern.
- Securing night time container pulls to avoid Pier Pass charges.
- Out of 13 terminals, 5 currently require appointments, so, if a night time appointment cannot be secured within the free time, then it must be made dayside which then requires timely communication with the receiver for Pier Pass approval prior to terminal LFD.
- There is no consistency in the way each terminal is operated.
- The first Thursday of each month the Port only operates a single day shift.
- Each Friday a terminal may or may not operate a second shift and they do not send out any sort of notice in order to plan around it.
- With night time deliveries come night time termination of containers – however, if the container doesn’t terminate prior to 12 o’clock midnight, it will not show terminated until the following day. Big issue when kicking up against an LFD.
- Good order chassis need to be available for the carrier to take a load out of the terminal. There have been numerous times when a carrier has spent several hours in pursuit of a good order chassis, and ended up leaving empty handed having to return the following day.
- Managing the various free time, as allocated by the steamship lines, along with the chassis free times. Believe it or not sometimes they don’t match. There may be 0 days on the container, but only 9 days on the chassis.
- When terminating a container and chassis, sometimes the terminal will only accept the container and advise that the chassis must be terminated elsewhere.
- The there are the“Dual Transactions”, which also has a way of interfering with termination of containers and chassis.
- So, with all these transactions the communication between the carrier, the port, the various brokers and NVOCC’s and importer benefits from a Single Source solution.
The bottom line is there is far more than meets the eye in creating a successful Single Source Solution for the management of Inland Transportation and Container Management for on-time delivery within budget.
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