By Stacy Hylton, CDS Global Logistics, Inc.
Managing your supply chain costs is an important part of your overall bottom line.
We previously discussed some aspects of the final mile; however, many shippers could benefit from a more complete understanding of what costs occur during the destination delivery -- in particular, container flips, tri-axle charges, chassis fees, and pre-pulls.
Before you read any further, please check out this popular aforementioned blog article on the final mile, which describes the inherent risks of trucking goods to their final destinations.
Delivering containers can cost you in four ways:
A container flip occurs each time a container is lifted off the ground and placed on a truck chassis for transport on a street or roadway. As a shipper, however, you may be assessed an additional fee or flip charge if an extra flip is required in handling your container. For instance, if there is no present truck chassis for your container when it is offloaded from a rail car, the container must be removed from the rail car and placed on the ground until a chassis is present. The extra flip charge may be incurred for the second lift of the container from the ground onto the chassis after the container was initially unloaded.
A chassis is the specially designed trailer or undercarriage for the transport of shipping containers on a roadway. It is essentially the trailer part of the term, ‘tractor/trailer’. Chassis charges can be a source of confusion for many shippers because until recently, chassis were provided by ocean carriers in the US market. However, in 2009, Maersk announced that they would no longer provide truck chassis for containers in many US markets which forced dray trucking companies to purchase their own chassis equipment or rent/lease chassis equipment from designated chassis pools at ocean terminals and rail ramps across the country. Other carriers followed Maersk’s lead, and consequently shippers began to notice chassis charges from truckers as they were forced to pass fees along to shippers. Chassis charges can typically range $15-25 each day the chassis is in use.
A chassis split occurs when the container that needs to be transported is not located in the same place as the chassis. In this case, shippers may experience a chassis split charge assessed to cover the costs of bringing the chassis to the container location. Designated chassis pools manage and dictate pick-ups and return termination points of all chassis and work with local ocean terminals and rail ramps on chassis equipment availability. Chassis split charges are usually only known and accessed at the time of delivery. This scenario is similar to the charges for a container flip. In those instances where a container needs to be offloaded from a rail car and no chassis is available, extra charges for chassis split and the additional container flip are likely.
Tri-Axle Charges / Tri-Axle Services
This term might not be familiar, but you have no doubt seen a tri-axle vehicle in use many times. Tri-axle vehicles simply refer to the number of axles the vehicle has. For instance, heavy dump trucks or tow trucks often have a third set of wheels or drive axles that allow them to carry heavy loads. Certain chassis trailers are similarly equipped with a standard tandem drive axle and a third axle that is air-lift to allow the chassis to carry greater load weights.
When a chassis is equipped with tri-axles, the container it carries can be loaded with heavier cargo. Shippers may request a tri-axle just for this purpose if the nature of their cargo demands it. For example, a container of granite or stone will be heavier, and the shipper may specifically request tri-axle equipment from the drayage company.
Sometimes, tri-axle fees may be incurred if the weight of the cargo is such that in order to remain compliant with the law the trucking company must use a tri-axle chassis. In these instances, the additional fees will be passed on to the shipper.
If a shipper is unable to accept a delivery before the “Last Free Day,” it can be advantageous to pre-pull the container to a nearby container or drayage yard in order to avoid rail storage charges. In this scenario, the trucker will move the container and hold it at their container yard until the designated delivery appointment. A pre-pull charge is roughly one-third of the cost compared to paying full rail storage fees.
Another scenario might be when a shipment arrives at the end of the week, close to the weekend, or on a holiday, and the shipper is unable to take delivery of the container on the day it arrives.
As you have read, there are a number of fees or additional charges that might incur when moving your cargo. Good communication, though, with your freight forwarding partner is key in understanding the potential fees and avoiding unnecessary ones.
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Original text appeared in the January-February 2012 issue of Breakbulk Magazine