Dec 15

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A Guide to Transloading in Freight Logistics & How Smooth Operations Bring Supply Chain Efficiency

4 minute read
Brian Kempisty
A Guide to Transloading in Freight Logistics & How Smooth Operations Bring Supply Chain Efficiency Featured Image

When and why would a company need to transload containerized cargo? At Port X Logistics, we know that the decision to transload containers can be difficult, so we’re here to help. The below provides an overview of transloading, the benefits and challenges of transloading, and some transload technology tips. 

What Are Transloading Services?

Transloading services are a necessary part of the shipping process anytime cargo is shipped via multiple modes of transport. Loading cargo off of a ship that has arrived at port and onto a truck for transport to its final destination is the most common type of transload service. However, transloading can occur anytime cargo needs to be moved from one container, truck, or specialized equipment to another.

The Benefits of Transloading Services

There are several benefits to transloading.  The three biggest are CERTAINTY, SPEED, and FLEXIBILITY.  Supply Chain Resiliency is all the buzz these days. If you have time definite cargo for production or fulfillment, transloading will provide the certainty you are looking for.  When your production line, a customer’s production line, or immediate fulfillment is needed, speed and urgency is required.


Shipping container and chassis shortages, port congestion, bottlenecks and rail dwell time, trucking capacity shortages – all of these have made it increasingly difficult to secure certainty in delivery times. One great way to more reliably secure capacity for your cargo is to recover it as quickly as possible.  In many instances this means allowing your trucker to recover from the port then dray, transload, and truck to destination.  

Recovering the cargo as soon as it comes off the vessel of the Steamship Line will give you the most certainty.  You will have complete control over the timing of delivery.


Waiting for it to hit the rail.  The rail and Inland Point Intermodal can be cost effective, but…  It has to make it from the ship to the rail pile, from the rail pile to the train, ride the train near the destination city, wait for discharge, hope its not put into a pile, and wait for local final delivery.  

IPI = Inland Point Intermodal – Imported traffic moving from a US or Canada arrival port to an interior US point (nonports) via rail, on an Ocean Through Bill of Lading


In many instances customers NEED their cargo As Soon As Possible.  It could be a production line going down or an imminent penalty for not fulfilling a product. 

The secret to expediting your containerized cargo is not just diverting it from the rail, but having the professionals and technology to manage the process.   At Port X Logistics we take care of the full process.  Tracking the vessel, container availability, customs clearance, ensuring fees are paid, executing the pick up appointment and pick up, transloading (with photos), and immediately loading out the over the road truck.  

Managing the entire process is key to ensure there are no gaps in timing or execution.  Our goal is to always get the cargo immediately off the ocean container and directly onto our over the road truck. We often say we can assist customers in executing drayage, transloading, and trucking 2000 miles in just 2 days.  

Improved Flexibility

Reduced lead time/more reliable access to shipping capacity is another one of the benefits that improving your supply chain’s flexibility via transloading services can provide. Whether responding to shortages and price increases, arranging emergency transport for a misrouted container, or responding to any other challenges or opportunities, utilizing multiple modes of transport and effortlessly switching between them can provide lots of advantages.

Supply Chain Management 

Transloading gives shippers more control over their inventory management and more flexibility throughout the supply chain. This can be especially helpful when overseas transit times are extended due to port congestion or when market demands for goods fluctuate rapidly. Transloading provides companies an opportunity to direct goods exactly where they are needed most at that exact moment in time. 

Demurrage and Detention 

Shipping containers are given a certain number of “free days” upon arrival at the destination port, after that time they accrue fees. Demurrage applies when a container overstays its allotted time at the terminal. Detention applies when a container is not returned empty to the terminal by its due date. Free days and associated fees are determined by the ship lines and can fluctuate depending on market conditions and container demand – as we saw during the capacity crunch of 2021. These fees can accumulate quickly if not monitored closely. 

Transloading can help mitigate excessive detention and demurrage charges by quickly unloading goods at a transload facility and moving them to a new container or trailer. Transloading is a particularly valuable alternative for ship-to-rail intermodal shipments, since those transit times can be wildly unpredictable in times of congestion with very little opportunity for mitigation or rerouting once a container is loaded on the rail.

Trends in Transloading

Transloading became an increasingly important link in the supply chain over the last several years, especially in the wake of the pandemic. A surge in consumer demand led to a sharp spike in imports at U.S. ports, causing massive congestion and an incredibly constrained (and expensive) container market. Shiplines, eager to get empty containers back across the Pacific, began limiting free-time for containers and refusing reloads from the inland U.S. – further increasing the gap between imports and exports, and pushing already astronomical container rates even higher. 

With Steamship Line on-time percentages at an all time low, congested interior rail ramps, and the SSL’s waiting their equipment/containers back, quicker transloading is projected to continue to grow over the next several decades.  

Get Optimized with Transloading Services

On the surface, transloading can seem complicated and stressful – especially for shippers that haven’t utilized it in the past. The right transloading service partner can alleviate uncertainty and confusion, provide helpful insights into market dynamics that guide transload decision-making, and ensure that shipments are optimized for cost-savings and efficiency. Meet Port X Logistics. 

Port X Logistics delivers industry-leading transload services, customized to meet your specific needs. With Port X Logistics you can count on:

  • Reliable service at every port across the United States and Canada. 
  • Decades of combined logistics experience for every mode of transport – ocean freight, intermodal, rail, trucking, and airfreight. 
  • Cutting-edge technology and dedicated staff to monitor cargo from pickup through delivery.  As a trucking company Port X Logistics has the automated ability to track the vessel, availability, holds, provide photos of transloads, and provide 24/7 tracking on any device until it arrives at final delivery where the driver will upload a photo of your POD.
  • Optimized transloading processes that reduce costs and increase efficiencies.

To learn why shippers across North America trust Port X Logistics for their transloading needs contact our experts today!

Brian Kempisty