How a 3PL Can Help You Manage Your International Shipping Transportation Needs

August 20, 2021 | Imports / Exports, Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

Many ports are facing major challenges these days – and so are the companies who count on them. Shippers are having trouble getting their containers out of some of the busiest ports in the United States, particularly on the West Coast, and detention charges are mounting. Some container deliveries are getting delayed by weeks, stuck inplace in highly congested terminals. Businesses caught up in the slowdown are facing serious production challenges, paralyzed supply chains, and a frustrating uncertainty.

At Distribution Technology, we manage drayage for the freight of many of our clients with international shipping needs, and we always aim to use our expertise and experience to ensure their containers leave the ports and are properly distributed in a timely manner. It’s one of the ways that a 3PL that is experienced in the transportation component of international shipping can be so valuable for your business as you attempt to navigate a distinctively complex sector of the supply chain.

Drayage is a crucial but occasionally overlooked component of international shipping. Shippers sometimes place a greater emphasis on the “international” component of the journey – when their freight is carried by ship from a foreign port into the United States. They place less of a priority on the drayage piece when their freight first leaves its U.S. port and begins its trip to its next destination, such as a fulfillment warehouse or distribution center.

For international shipping, however, drayage can have a critical impact on the success of your operation and on the flow of international trade in general. A well-priced, efficient trip to a U.S. port can get dramatically undermined with slowdowns and other problems after the freight’s arrival, as many businesses have experienced this year. If your freight is sitting at a port for a long period of time, it can be a maddening experience and one that can lead to financial and operational ramifications that are difficult to manage.

The current climate highlights the value of working with a 3PL for drayage. A global event such as the COVID-19 pandemic can have wide-ranging ramifications that create confusion and imbalance in the supply chain. The unexpected surge in container shipping demand this year has put steep pressure on terminals and landside operations.

It’s a reminder that conditions surrounding international shipping are unpredictable and can vary widely based on a range of factors. That unpredictability can place pressure on the carriers, such as trucking companies, who provide drayage and other inland transportation services to companies who are importing raw materials or products from abroad. When demand peaks, for instance, service-providers who offer drayage can find themselves faced with more freight than they have capacity to carry in a prompt manner.

An experienced 3PL, however, can strive to ensure your freight doesn’t get left behind. A 3PL like Distribution Technology can use their expertise and resources to ensure freight seamlessly continues its journey to your customers in a way that is both efficient and reliable, avoiding the array of obstacles that threaten to cause delays.

A strategic approach to importing and exporting transportation services also will lead to reduced shipping and freight costs, especially if you work with a 3PL that possesses strong relationships with the various partners involved in transporting your goods. Intermodal shipping, involving some combination of sea, air, road and rail travel, often is the most effective approach for both importing and exporting, and it places particular importance on the strength of drayage services as freight must be transported among various modes of transportation – between a port and a railyard or between a railyard and a warehouse, for instance – and unloaded and loaded to meet the requirements of each mode.

At Distribution Technology, we serve as a partner for importing, exporting and container transloading services. Our decades of experience of handling imports and exports for a range of industries has enabled us to streamline the processing of hundreds of containers weekly, allowing you to optimize your own capacity as needed. For more information about how we can help you with international shipping, contact us today.