When importing goods into Southern California ports, getting cargo through Customs is just the start of the challenge.
You've got to get your containers out of the port, and then find a Southern California warehousing partner to help get the goods to market. To learn more, read our paper: "Logistics Primer for Importers to Southern California Seaports."
Following are some key questions that you may be faced with:
Can I manage drayage myself using low-cost drayage partners?
If you haven’t had a lot of on-the-ground experience navigating the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, it can be confusing, and costly. Your ideal guide is a drayage services partner that makes multiple daily runs in and out of the Ports and understands their detailed operating procedures. Cost is an important criterion when choosing a drayage partner but remember, the provider with the lowest price may not offer the lowest cost if poor service results in delays or fines.
Should I move my goods during the day or at night?
Importers to the Ports of LA and Long Beach are subject to the PierPASS program, which charges $133 per 40-foot container to any company moving goods off port during the peak hours of 8 am to 5 pm. While moving goods at night will avoid the PierPASS charge, it may result in other costs. For instance, if your destination warehouse is not open 24/7, you’ll have to pay your drayage company a pre-pull charge to take the container to its yard and hold it overnight until it can be delivered the following business day when the warehouse can receive the goods.
What if my container is overweight?
If your products, and therefore your containers, are heavy, you may run afoul of California State highway weight limits, which place an 80,000-pound limit on vehicle weight (tractor, chassis, container and product combined). You’ll need to move the container to a transload facility in the overweight corridor – specific locations near the Port – so goods can be transferred off the container to create a load that is safe and legal to transport to the final destination.
Where should I store products for final distribution?
There is no shortage of Southern California warehouses. The question is exactly where to locate your inventory. If you establish a transload/warehouse facility near the Port, your drayage costs will be cheaper and transportation costs to LA customers lower, but space and labor costs will be higher and you’ll deal with LA-area road congestion. If you choose to locate in the Inland Empire region – a major hub for logistics activity 60 miles east of Los Angeles – your space and labor costs will be cheaper and facilities will be newer, but drayage and outbound transportation costs will increase because of the added distance from the port. 3PL providers like Weber Logistics have locations in both the Inland Empire and LA County to give you maximum flexibility.
Should I outsource distribution support or do it myself?
Most companies that manufacture goods offshore are pre-disposed to outsource Southern California warehousing and distribution services. They want to remain asset light and don’t want the time and hassle involved in running facilities, hiring and managing people, and investing capital in a non-core function. Those that manage their own logistics operations do so because they want direct oversight of operations to minimize costs.
Your Southern California import freight has little financial value sitting in a container. You want to get these goods off the dock and into your customers’ hands as fast as possible. To avoid delays and fines, partner with an experienced Southern California warehousing and drayage 3PL that gives you the knowledge to navigate not only the the physical LA and Long Beach port complexes, but port regulations, terminal procedures, and local laws on container freight transport.