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How Drayage is Charged and Cost Saving Tips

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Drayage costs, in my opinion, which I am sure others share, are as confusing as paying taxes.

Every show and show city has its own rules and you have to read all the fine print to make sure you don’t overlook something that can have big cost consequences.

You’ve heard the terms and know how confusing they are.

How well do you follow stuff like Advanced, Direct, Special handling, mixed loads, crated, loose, minimum weights, small packages, undocumented deliveries, off target, zone shipments, constricted space, stacked shipments, mixed loads, Straight time, Overtime, Forced freight, marshaling yards, waiting time, fuel surcharges? And the list goes on and on. No wonder exhibitors question drayage since it is such a subjective cost that is hard to calculate and budget from show to show.

We talked about what drayage is already, so let’s look at how it is charged and some cost saving techniques.

Drayage is charged by weight. The standard method is to charge a base fee for each 100 pounds of freight sent to the show. If a shipment weighs 117 pounds, you will be charged a rounded up weight of

200 pounds, as drayage is charged in 100 pound increments. The weight going into the show is used as the charged weight for all drayage calculations as it is always the heaviest weight. Your shipment weight divided by 100 is multiplied by the drayage rate. That is the number most people use to budget. The problem is that you are using the lowest possible cost.

Your first tip is to use a median drayage figure for budgeting, not the lowest. I always use a Straight time/Overtime combination when estimating drayage when there is even a remote possibility of the freight going out on Overtime.

For example:  a 1,000 lbs. shipment would be 10 hundred weights (commonly referred to as 10 CWT). The C stands for the Roman numeral for 100 and the “w t” is the abbreviation for weight. So in this example we will pick a show drayage rate of $85 per CWT. Therefore your drayage calculation would be $850 dollars or 10 times $85 dollars.

Simple – right? Now is where the fun begins. Your drayage bill comes in double your estimate.

The contractor said that the shipments came in separately, were on overtime, in and out, and 2 of the shipments were charged a 200 pound minimum.

All shipments were rounded up to an even hundred weight and hit with an automatic special handling fee since you sent them using FedEx.

Sound familiar? So how do you minimize drayage costs?

Here is a quick list:

  1. Combine shipments on a pallet or in a large container to avoid 200 lb. minimums.
  2. Use a shipping company or a display house that has proper documentation and certified weight tickets to avoid special handling costs.
  3. Look at mixed loads and separate them into crated and uncrated shipments.
  4. Send them in under separate bill of ladings to avoid the uncrated rate for the entire shipment. In other words send your carpet under one bill of Lading and your    crated exhibit under another.
  5. Send small packages to your hotel and hand carry them to show site to avoid 200 lb. minimums.
  6. Rent carpets or shrink wrap carpet to crated items to prevent an uncrated shipment surcharge.
  7. Design shipping containers to stand upright to avoid stacked shipment charges and talk to your shipper about unstacking a shipment before they deliver to a show site.
  8. Take photos of shipments to use as evidence for erroneous charges.

Your display house is well versed in drayage procedures and can offer many suggestions to control costs.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.