Between the truck driver shortage and many other supply chain labor shortages related to the pandemic, it’s important to maximize the time and productivity of the workers you have when you have them. A drop trailer program is an effective way to do this. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at drop trailers, as well as some additional efficiency-boosting transportation services that 3PL providers can offer.
What is a drop trailer?
A drop trailer program (or “drop trailer agreement”) works like this: a third-party logistics provider (3PL) or trucking company delivers a trailer to your facility or to a retailer DC on your behalf (you or your 3PL must have a drop-trailer agreement with the retailer DC). The driver can either bring it straight to the loading dock or drop it in the yard. Either way, the driver will leave after delivering the trailer instead of staying for the unloading process. The unloading will be performed by the warehouse staff after the driver has left.
This strategy mitigates two major problems in the current supply chain.
- The driver shortage. As there aren’t enough drivers to handle the demand for their services, every second that a driver is behind the wheel is a precious commodity. Therefore, time that a driver waits to unload at a distribution center is time that he or she is effectively wasting. A drop trailer agreement allows drivers to minimize down time (i.e., time spent waiting for warehouse staff to unload the trailer) and move on to the next load.
- The warehouse labor shortage. If you’re like most companies, you’re experiencing a shortage of warehouse associates. The employees that you do have are likely juggling numerous responsibilities. So, when a driver arrives at your warehouse to unload, it may not be the best time for your associates to perform that unloading. If, however, the driver simply drops the trailer off, your associates can unload it at their convenience.
Going a step further, many 3PLs can also perform a “drop and hook.” With this process, the 3PL can drop off an empty trailer and subsequently pick up a full trailer you’ve loaded. Or, vice versa, it can drop off a full trailer and pick up an empty one that you’ve unloaded. This enables your operation to run quickly and eliminate down time.
Additional local transportation services to boost driver efficiency
Of course, drop trailers aren’t the only way to boost distribution efficiency. Two additional productivity-saving transportation services we offer at Kanban include cross docking and rail transloading.
Cross docking combines short-term (sometimes very short-term) warehousing and local delivery, allowing you to keep your products (and your drivers) in motion while skipping the costs of long-term warehousing or vendor penalties. For instance, if your drivers are early or late for their appointment windows at QVC or other Eastern NC destinations, they can bring their loads to one of our cross dock facilities. We’ll store your products temporarily and deliver them at the designated appointment times – allowing your drivers to simply drop off and skip the wait altogether.
Rail transloading allows you to utilize OTR services more efficiently as your products travel by rail for most of their journey – leaving only the last mile to drivers. At Kanban’s Rocky Mount facility, we have the ability to load and unload both boxcars and center-beam cars. Boxcars can be unloaded directly into our warehouse and prepared for final delivery. Center-beam cars are unloaded onto flatbed trucks in our transload yard and can then be brought inside the warehouse or delivered straightaway.
Lean on Kanban for local transportation in Eastern NC
At Kanban Logistics, we work with you to maximize the efficiency of your supply chain. Part of that involves maximizing the efficiency of our transportation services to drive down both costs and time. It also means working with you to accommodate the schedule that works best for your business and your employees. So, whether you’d like to learn more about our drop trailer relationships, cross docking, transloading, or any of our other transportation services, contact Kanban today.