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The Shipping Puzzle – The Container Chassis

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Why is the Chassis so Important?

We’ve all seen them, large transport trucks hauling great containers holding quantities of goods, machinery or textiles. Well as it turns out there is a bit of an issue with these transports. It isn’t that they are unsafe or faulty, or that there are not enough drivers able to do the job. It is something altogether a little more unusual; transport companies are running out of container chassis.

What is the Chassis?

A transport chassis is an exclusive trailer or undercarriage used to transport ocean containers over the road.

What is the Issue?

Shipping Puzzle It is not the fault of the locations providing the chassis to the companies, as they keep records of which transportation company the chassis is with, but more so what occurs after their pick-up. It has been noted that they fall into a kind of “Black Hole” of sorts, not knowing when they will reappear at their end arrival. Not knowing when transport will return from its location is a serious issue as the terminal will be unable to keep a proper inventory.

A follow-up issue is not just the destination of the goods, but also the chassis itself. It appears that as opposed to returning the chassis to its start location drivers, at around 50 percent are dropping the chassis off at a different location. The apparent issue here is that this leads to a surplus of chassis at some locations and a demand for them at others.

shipping chassis

In correlation to not only having an unsure supply of chassis, but warehouses are also bleeding funds into relocating them back to their original hubs. The Old Dominion research project determined that 80 percent of chassis relocation was unnecessary and in Southern California alone costs for a pool of pools around $20 million a year.

What Does the Future Hold?

As of yet there have not been any definitive solutions devised there are a few ideas in the works. The most obvious one is outfitting the chassis with GPS tracking devices, though the cost at this moment is still too high. Another idea is for motor carriers to purchase their chassis or taken the equipment out on long-term leases, this will lead to a reliance on the transport company but also keep the warehouse from having to spend extra money returning the chassis to the original storage building.


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