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Drayage Capacity: Why Product is Sitting in Ports

The number of drayage drivers has dwindled since the beginning of the pandemic. There are multiple factors at play as to why there’s a shortage of drayage drivers in the United States right now. Mostly, it’s due to dramatic changes in the industry over short amounts of time which is causing a decline in drayage capacity.

The industry seemed to suffer from huge declines in the volume of cargo that was being shipped after initial lockdown periods. While governments tried to limit the spread of the coronavirus, shipping companies saw major setbacks. Of course, this didn’t last long. Consumer demand made a quick resurgence, and the industry wasn’t exactly ready for such a sudden change. 

Thus, there’s been an issue with driver availability and lack of proper equipment. The shipping industry was simply not prepared for such rapid shifts in demand. Read along to understand why there’s a shortage in drayage drivers and how products sitting in ports hurt companies and the economy.

What is Drayage?

Drayage carrier

If you’re not familiar with the term drayage or what a drayage driver is, here’s the rundown. Essentially, drayage is the transportation of cargo over short distances. For example, drayage drivers might be responsible for taking shipping containers from a port to a warehouse or a train station. 

Short distance drayage drivers are imperative to the international supply chain. Without them, we’ve seen the effects of shipping containers sitting in ports, waiting to be picked up. In an increasingly connected world, with conveniences such as two or even same day delivery, it’s easy to see why a shortage in drayage services might be hurting companies.

Drayage Capacity Needed

When the volume of cargo being shipped began to drop, many drayage drivers decided to leave the industry. Whether it was over covid concerns or economic concerns, there were many drivers who decided to retire or pursue an alternative career path. 

Both fortunate and unfortunate was the renewed influx of freight coming into ports. While the demand for shipped goods was increasing, the urgent need for drayage drivers also increased. However, fewer new drivers have entered the industry, and many of the experienced drivers have not returned. 

The tables have turned tremendously when it comes to drayage in just the past year or two. With a surge in e-commerce, the demand for drivers is even more severe. In the middle of 2020, we started to see congestion problems at ports across the country.

In the past year, container ships and cargo vessels have resorted to docking just outside of major ports like the ones in Los Angeles and Long Beach. With this amount of congestion happening in the industry, drayage positions right now in the United States are incredibly needed and increasingly lucrative. 

Ships in Port: Why it’s Bad for Companies

Intermodal shipping

Of course, anyone can see why companies wouldn’t want their freight sitting at a port for weeks at a time. With the supply chain the way it is in this day and age, it’s not ideal for companies to have their products tied up in ports. Again, consumers are used to getting these things in an instant. With the click of a button, you can order something, and it will show up to your house on the same day. 

The economy is incredibly affected by the drayage shortage and the issues it has caused. We’re already beginning to see the effects of the last year on the industry as the holidays approach. Here are some reasons the drayage shortage hurts companies.

First, retailers are unable to get the goods and products they need in the first place. Holiday shoppers might be distraught at the lack of product they’ll see on shelves this year, as the supply chains have somewhat broken down. Additionally, factories in the United States have been forced to slow or completely stop production. This is because many of them are awaiting parts that are currently sitting at a port. 

Of course, the lack of drayage drivers also ends up affecting the ultimate prices of these goods and products. Unfortunately, that means that this issue is driving up prices for consumers. Not only are ships sitting in ports bad for companies, but also for your average consumer. 

Shipping Container Shortage

Ocean container shipping

Not only is there a shortage of drayage drivers, but with the ups and downs of the pandemic, there has also been a shipping container shortage. So where are all the containers and how is there a shortage?

Of course, we all know that the covid-19 outbreak began in China. As such, China was the first country to shut down normal operations and quarantine. This was a massive economic shutdown that spiraled from China across the rest of the world as the virus spread. 

Many companies shut down temporarily and reduced the number of vessels that were out at sea. As such, empty containers were stopped at ports and left behind. When China began to recover from the pandemic and re-open, the industry quickly discovered that the containers were not coming back from North America quickly enough, creating a shortage. 

Drayage Drivers Needed

As you can see, the global supply chain really does rely on every link. If one domino is missing, the entire chain suffers. This is why drayage drivers are needed in the industry today. Drayage services are incredibly vital to the transport of freight in the United States and around the world. 

If you’re interested in pursuing drayage as a career, or if you want to know more about the shipping industry and the global supply chain, contact us at Heavy Weight Transport. We have driving positions available at our locations including in California, Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Georgia. 

Companies want their products on the shelves as much as the consumer does. When cargo is sitting in a port for weeks without being moved, no one wins. This is why we need drayage services to get us back on track. When drivers work, the economy benefits.