Why Am I Charged For So Many Chassis Days?

At 3PL Center, we hear a question time and time again from our valued customers: “Why am I charged for so many chassis days? I don’t understand! Can you break it down for me?” Let’s shed some light on this common question.

In an ideal scenario, when you entrust a third-party logistics company like us to handle your drayage, you’d expect a seamless process from port to warehouse. You’d envision your container quickly picked up, efficiently unloaded, and promptly returned to the port, all within a matter of hours. However, the reality of drayage is a bit more involved. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding chassis days that may give insight into the intricacies of the drayage process.

Why does the warehouse unload floor-loaded containers the day after they are delivered?

If we plan for a team to start unloading early in the morning and the container doesn’t arrive on time, we now have our teams wasting valuable time and money waiting around. For instance, if the container was scheduled to be picked up on Wednesday morning, but the trucker is not able to drop it until Wednesday at 3pm, the warehouse would be waiting all day for it to arrive to unload it.  Due to these circumstances, we generally schedule for the container to be unloaded on the next day after it’s delivered to the warehouse. This will help our warehouse employees get ready in anticipation of your container. This alleviates the wait time and has our employees ready to service your container when it arrives. 

Why didn’t the driver deliver the container to the warehouse on the same day they picked it up?

A driver may sit for hours at the port and finally get out at 3pm. At this point, they will either drop it in our yard or bring it back to his yard and then deliver it to our warehouse the following day. Drivers have a certain amount of hours they can drive per day. And of course, they do have to get home to their families too.

Here are some examples of what may occur when a container is picked up that are beyond our control:

  • Congestion and long lines at the port 
  • Traffic on major highways, which generally is the case by all major ports
  • Tire blow out – this happens more often than you think!
  • The port can’t find the container and makes the trucker wait 

Why didn’t the trucker return the floor-loaded container on the same day it was unloaded?

Unfortunately, just because we notified the trucker that the container is ready for pick up and return to the port, doesn’t mean the trucker is waiting around 24/7 for us. Dispatchers will now have to put it on their schedule, check which terminal the container needs to be returned to, check for availability to return at the port and check availability with their drivers. Sometimes it may very well be picked up the same day, but may not get returned back to the port until the next day or the following day, depending on what they have available. 

Can a container be picked up at the port, delivered to the warehouse the same day, unloaded at the warehouse and returned back to the port on the same day?

Sure, if all the stars in the universe align. Certainly, if it’s a palletized container, there’s a realistic possibility for it to be unloaded on the same day, as it is much quicker for our warehouse teams to handle.

Do I get charged for chassis days over the weekend?

Yes, weekends add additional chassis days. Unfortunately, in the fast-paced logistics environment and the minimal time you have to pick up a container, you can’t really plan around avoiding weekends. 

Behind-the-scenes of drayage operations

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how drayage operates from our perspective as your dedicated warehouse and fulfillment center:

  • Scheduling: Once your container is ready for pick-up at the port, the trucker coordinates with the terminal for retrieval, then arranges with us for the drop-off. Despite the best intentions, delays at the port and transit snags are common.
  • Strategic Planning: To deal with these issues, we typically schedule the unloading for the day after the pick-up and delivery at the warehouse. This allows our warehouse team to prepare for your container’s arrival, ensuring a swift unloading process. 
  • Complex Unloading Scenarios: Floor-loaded containers, especially those with a diverse array of SKUs, require careful handling. We unload and separate all SKUs simultaneously to ensure accurate and efficient storage. This meticulous process can extend the unloading time, adding 1-2 extra chassis days. However, most containers are unloaded the same day and put into stock within 24-48 hours. 
  • Trucker Coordination: Once the unloading and separation are complete, our system will automatically notify the trucker that the container is ready for pick-up.
  • Return to Port/Terminal: Then the trucker will coordinate with the drivers to pick up the container at our facility. Depending on the time, it can be delivered straight to the port. Drivers may choose to return the container to their yard if they are unable to deliver it directly to the port. They can then schedule the container to be returned when they are available to do so.

Here’s a practical example:

Schedule for Container A

  • Container A was delivered to our warehouse on Thursday at 3pm
  • Unloading and separation commence on Friday morning
  • Unloading completed on Friday potentially into Monday (if there are many SKUs and/or SKUs were not loaded properly)
  • Container pick-up and return scheduled for Wednesday

Remember that weekends add additional chassis days. As you can see, the process involves a few chassis days to facilitate pick-up, drop-off, unloading, and return to the port.

Complete Transparency: Real Time-Updates

Fortunately, at 3PL Center, we offer complete transparency into the drayage process. Our advanced TMS grants you real-time updates on your container’s journey, from terminal pick-up to warehouse drop-off and return. This visibility provides you with the peace of mind of knowing your goods’ location at any given moment during the drayage process.

Real-time updates throughout the drayage process

With our TMS, you will have real-time updates to see when:

  • The container is available for pick up and if there are any freight or customs holds
  • The container was picked up at the port/terminal 
  • The container was delivered to warehouse
  • Unloading was completed at the warehouse
  • The driver picked up the container after it was unloaded
  • It is finally terminated at the port after its been returned

Feel free to reach out if you have any further questions or need additional clarification. We’re here to make your logistics experience as smooth as possible!


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