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West Coast and California Logistics Blog

Select an Asset-Based Carrier for Drayage to Speed Distribution

Fri, Mar 29, 2024 @ 07:00 AM / by Weber Logistics

Some companies will choose to have their ocean carrier perform “port-to-door” drayage services. While this approach may be convenient, it can also be detrimental to your port-to-market distribution speed as it’s easy to become a small fish in a big ocean carrier pond.  You are likely not a priority shipper to the steamship line, and your containers won’t be their first priority – especially in peak periods.   When you choose the right asset-based carrier for drayage, its assets are as good as yours.


Turning to an asset-based carrier for drayage

4-axle-chassis-4-cropAsset-based drayage carriers have their own trucks and chassis and yards to position that equipment to service your inbound volume. When you partner with such a carrier, it doesn’t hang up the phone with you and then go out and find trucks to meet your needs – it has the equipment and can assign it to your supply chain. So, if your carrier contracts to cover the 400 containers you have arriving in the seasonal peak period between September and December, your asset-based provider will assign the capacity to timely pick up every one of those loads.

Now, of course, not every asset-based carrier is going to have equipment available as it may be “spoken for” by other customers. But, once you find one that can accommodate you, the equipment is committed to as yours. When capacity is tight, the value of this asset-based approach cannot be overstated. 


A small fish in the ocean carrier pond

Having one carrier transport your containers across the ocean, bring it to a port, and then put it on a truck and deliver it to your destination certainly sounds like a good idea. And, in theory, it is. It’s a very convenient distribution model that allows you to work with one partner for all your port distribution needs.

But, in practice, relying on an ocean carrier for drayage can leave a lot to be desired. As convenient as it may seem to deal with one logistics partner for everything, that convenience can quickly go up in smoke if you have a problem or want to talk to someone about your operation. Unless you work for Amazon, Walmart or another mega-volume customer of the carrier’s, communication is going to be difficult at best and non-existent at worst. This stands in stark contrast to the dedicated representative you will work with when dealing with most asset-based 3PL carriers. 

And, speaking of the Amazons and Walmarts of the world, they’re always going to take priority over smaller businesses when it comes to the ocean carrier’s dray capacity. The trucks and chassis you think will be standing by at the port for you may suddenly be substantially delayed pulling your loads if one of these retail or Etail monoliths takes priority. 


Additional advantages of partnering with an asset-based carrier

Reliability and Control: Asset-based carriers own their equipment, including trucks, chassis, and the terminal yards to position them near the port. This ownership provides them with greater control over their operations, ensuring more reliable service schedules and reducing the dependency on third-party equipment providers.

When you’re working with an integrated services 3PL that also controls other key aspects of your supply chain like warehousing and/or final-mile delivery, the benefits become even more pronounced. Let’s say that you need the warehouse to open after hours to receive an incoming container. Your integrated 3PL can do those things seamlessly as it controls several elements of the distribution process

Sustainability Efforts: With full control over their fleet, asset-based carriers can invest in more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. This allows them to better align with sustainability goals and regulations.

When you’re importing into California, however, working with a green logistics company isn’t a ‘nice to have’ – it’s mandatory. California Air Resources Board (CARB) has strict regulations – including model-year restrictions – related to the emissions of drayage trucks. Compliance with these regulations is essential as non-compliant companies risk penalties, delays, and even operational shutdowns.

Cost-Effectiveness: The combination of reduced operational costs, economies of scale, and streamlined processes means that asset-based carriers can offer more competitive rates. They can adjust their pricing based on their actual costs rather than the variable costs associated with third-party services. This ability to manage and reduce expenses directly translates into cost savings for the customer.


What about non-asset-based carriers?

In singing the praises of the asset-based carrier when it comes to drayage, we do want to note that there are times when non-asset providers are an effective drayage solution. During slow periods, there may be a negligible difference between asset and non-asset provider capacity and service. It may even prove to be beneficial to have a balanced strategy in which you rely primarily on asset-based providers, and then use non-asset-based ones as backups or for sporadic work. 

During peak periods, however, you need dependability and the peace of mind knowing that you have the regular capacity you need. The most effective way to do this is to lock in that capacity with an asset-based provider. 


Partner with Weber Logistics for asset-based port drayage on the West Coast

Weber Logistics is an asset-based transportation provider that performs port drayage operations at all major West Coast ports. Our drayage solutions are fully integrated with our warehousing and OTR operations, enabling you to work with one single 3PL provider for your entire West Coast supply chain. To learn more about our asset-based drayage services and the many other logistics services we offer, contact us today



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Topics: 3PL Outsourcing, Drayage, Distribution, supply chain cycle time

Written by Weber Logistics

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