Inbound Logistics | January 2024

It's a new day for the drayage industry as it attracts investments in technology to transform a crucial, but long-overlooked, component of the supply chain. By Tom Gresham

T he drayage industry has begun to come out of the shadows. Long “an uncelebrated hero,” according to Dana Ricksecker, general manager of drayage and intermodal for Florida-based BlueGrace Logistics, drayage’s place as “a cornerstone of the modern logistics landscape” is becoming widely recognized.

by tech advances, leading to growing investor interest. “This new recognition has resulted in increased investment in technology solutions tailored to the drayage industry,” Ricksecker says, as has the persistence of legacy systems in many ports and logistics entities. “Outdated systems have become a hindrance as the complexity of supply chain operations has increased,” Ricksecker says. “Drayage companies are increasingly acknowledging the advantages of technology to optimize operations, streamline processes, and maintain competitiveness in the evolving logistics landscape.” ARRAY OF TECH SOLUTIONS A wide variety of tech advancements have led to notable improvements in drayage. “Technology empowers drayage carriers by providing the tools and capabilities necessary to enhance visibility, streamline operations, optimize planning, and effectively manage various aspects of their business,” Ricksecker says. “These advancements contribute to greater efciency, cost savings, and improved service quality in the drayage segment of the supply chain.” Several different types of technology are helping to improve efciency and streamline operations in the drayage eld. “Transportation management systems and electronic logging devices can help carriers to optimize routes, track shipments in real time, and reduce paperwork,” Mecca says. “Mobile apps and online portals make it easier for customers to track their shipments and communicate with drayage carriers. “Cutting-edge integrations allow for the real-time bilateral sharing of information so cargo owners can be kept informed on status updates, document sharing, ETAs, and more,” he adds.

utilization, tight timelines, lack of visibility, outdated legacy software, and cost pressures. “These challenges can impact the efciency and protability of drayage operations, making it difcult for carriers to compete in an underserved market,” says Michael Mecca, CEO and founder of PortPro, a Jersey City-based company that provides a drayage transportation management system. When drayage companies use outdated technology, it can make those challenges that much more difcult. “Drayage inefciencies can be particularly challenging due to routing, manual paperwork, and communication issues,” Mecca explains. “These inefciencies can lead to longer wait times, increased costs, and lower customer satisfaction.” Before the pandemic-era supply chain disruptions, drayage historically had not seen much innovation. Among the factors holding the industry back was its skepticism of “ashy tech released by pure software providers,” Weis says. “Drayage is an incredibly complex process, and businesses are hesitant to trust software providers that don’t offer hard-won ground operations experience,” Weis says. Ricksecker agrees the drayage eld has historically been slower to adopt technology than other segments of the supply chain, but the pandemic acted as a catalyst for digitalization across all sectors. The pandemic not only spotlighted drayage’s critical importance but also that it has been underserved

“Drayage’s impact on the entire lifecycle of a shipment is pivotal,” Ricksecker says. “Any errors or inefciencies in this phase can have far- reaching consequences throughout the entire supply chain. “Efciently and accurately executing drayage is essential for the smooth ow of goods from their arrival at the port to their end destination,” she adds. Drayage is “the connective tissue between U.S. ports and rail ramps,” notes Peter Weis, chief information ofcer and senior vice president of supply chain services for Nevada-based ITS Logistics. “Drayage is a high-risk area because condensed activities happen in congested areas in a short amount of time,” Weis says. “Drayage is the rst domino of the supply chain; if it doesn’t go right, it holds up everything down the line.” As supply chain leaders better understand drayage’s importance, technology providers are developing sophisticated solutions that are transforming the industry’s traditional way of operating. The result is greater efciency, improved service, and compelling new possibilities on the horizon. A FRESH EMBRACE OF TECHNOLOGY An assortment of critical challenges affect the drayage industry, such as capacity constraints, congestion and delays, compliance and regulations, maintenance and repairs, driver shortages, labor disruptions, appointment challenges, asset allocation and

January 2024 • Inbound Logistics 165

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