Skip to main content

The port of Los Angeles is the busiest in the country, and that of Long Beach is not far behind. Together, this port complex handles a staggering 29% of all containerized goods (imports and exports) passing through the United States, underscoring their pivotal role in the nation’s economy. The high volume of activities at both ports makes them integral to supply chain operations across the country, especially in the Western Hemisphere. In the context of inbound and outbound operations around the port complex, the Los Angeles drayage leg is a critical metric determining overall logistics efficiency. 

As businesses constantly have to move goods in and out of the facility, more emphasis is placed on the seamless movement of goods, making efficiency and streamlining a core value for drayage companies in Los Angeles. In this article, we will explore the logistical and drayage nuances across Los Angeles and Long Beach ports and how businesses, shippers, and supply chains can navigate them.

Unique Advantages of The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach

The large volume of goods handled across both ports is about 20 million TEUs, making them crucial hubs for international trade and a substantial source of revenue for the state and nation as well. But beyond these benefits, there are unique advantages that only these Ports offer:

Handle The Largest Vessels

The port of Los Angeles has a remarkable water depth of 53 feet, allowing the largest cargo vessels with deep drafts to enter and dock safely. In 2015, it made history by welcoming the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the world’s largest container ship at the time. In 2023, it further demonstrated its capabilities by handling over 18,465 containers from a single vessel, a record-breaking achievement.

Strategic Geographic Positioning

Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are located in the state of California, the economic powerhouse of the US, making them a major supply chain infrastructure. Both ports serve as the Pacific gateway, offering businesses and supply chains direct access to Asia. The ports are surrounded by extensive freeways, railways, and airports, all allowing seamless movement of goods across North America. The deep harbors eliminate dredging and allow for cheaper maintenance of goods.

Advanced Facilities

A century of operation has equipped both ports with extensive infrastructure and facilities such as dedicated terminals, warehouses, and logistics facilities, all of which play critical roles in catering to the specific needs of modern shippers. The state-of-the-art facilities at both ports enhance logistics and shipping operations for supply chains, leveraging them.

Logistics at The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach

Los Angeles drayage services are a big part of the logistics operations at the ports. It allows for seamless importation and exportation because they are critical in taking cargo containers to and from the ports, connecting the warehouses, factories, and transloading facilities to Los Angeles truckload services. Because of the massive volume of goods and containers handled, the ports have a unique approach to their logistics and drayage service:

Collaborative Ecosystem

The massive volume of traffic moving through both ports necessitates that the ports and associated Los Angeles container drayage manage several stakeholders. They typically include customs brokers, drivers, freight forwarders, shipping lines, and terminal operators. The ports run a collaborative ecosystem powered by technology to streamline their activities and ensure minimal congestion.

Off Peak Drayage (Los Angeles)

Encouraging drayage services and shippers to pick up containers outside peak hours can drastically reduce the congestion and its impact. The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports leverage multiple modes of transportation to drive down congestion. The port is constantly investing in other modes of transportation beyond the drayage to spread out activities, but to pull it off, they have to ensure that the processes are as seamless as possible.


The ports have approved drayage companies that can pre-pull and store containers before the customs authority officially clears them. It is handy for both shippers and the port authorities because it reduces congestion and helps shippers navigate the last free day without being penalized.

Increasing Chassis Availability

By partnering with the chassis companies, the ports have made ample chassis available for all drayage trucks. This streamlines activity and reduces the timing the drayage companies require to attach each container to any truck.

Strategic Shifts at The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach

Labor negotiations for the East and Gulf Coast ports are coming up in December. If past labor negotiations across any industry are anything to go by, they could lead to strikes and a halt of operations across all the affected ports. 

Shippers are already considering Los Angeles and Long Beach ports as viable options for Port Houston, Savannah, and many others. While this would lead to new nuances and challenges in the supply chain, shippers are already experimenting by diverting some shipments to the WC ports. 

The container traffic at the port of Los Angeles is up 30% over the previous year for the first quarter of 2024. But beyond just using the ports of Los Angeles and Palm Beach as a contingency plan, shippers have to be worried about all that traffic putting a lot of pressure on the current infrastructure of the ports.

Although Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are viable options, the question of their capacity to handle increased traffic from the West Coast is still questionable.

Addressing Challenges and Enhancing Capacity

Although Los Angeles and Long Beach ports rank at the top of the list of ports in the US, some logistical challenges still impact the ports. These include congestion, labor shortages, poor container management, and stricter environmental regulations.

The ports are integrating relevant strategies to tackle these logistical challenges. Some of the steps taken include:

Infrastructure Expansion

The ports continuously expand and acquire infrastructures to accommodate the increasing traffic volume, especially since current volumes are beating the pre-pandemic era. Some of the infrastructural developments include building new terminals and acquiring cranes, yard trucks, and other pieces of equipment.

Integrating Technology

By integrating advanced technology solutions such as automated gates and yard trucks across all operations and processes, the ports have streamlined them and made them run faster and more efficiently.


Communication is the bedrock of collaboration in any supply chain management or operation. By streamlining communication across all departments, including customs authorities, terminal operators, shipping lines, and truckers, the ports have optimized the flow of goods and eliminated potential bottlenecks.

Expanding Rail Connections

Both ports are actively expanding their on-dock and near-dock facilities. This means optimizing the rail operations to reduce reliance on trucks and provide another channel to clear up congestion.

Sustainability Initiatives

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are taking their environmental responsibility seriously. They are implementing several green and zero-emission initiatives, including adopting cleaner technology, electric vehicles, and the green and digital shipping corridor.

Becoming A Green and Digital Shipping Corridor (GDSC)

The green and digital shipping corridor is a pioneering initiative by the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and the Singaporean port authority. The three ports aim to establish a sustainable and efficient shipping route between them, focusing on sustainability and technology. The green and digital shipping corridor aims to achieve:

  • Zero GHG Emissions by  2050
  • Low- and Zero-Emission Fuels
  • Advanced Maritime Technologies
  • Energy-efficient vessel designs
  • Shore power and cold ironing
  • Smart port operations

If the GDSC can achieve these goals, it will significantly impact the environment by reducing air pollution, combating climate change, and creating cleaner port environments for everyone. The GDSC’s success will serve as a model for other ports nationwide to adopt green and digital practices. It may also inform stricter environmental policies and regulations for the shipping industry and accelerate the rate of decarbonization.

Where LGI Comes in with Los Angeles Drayage Services

Logistics Group International is a third-party logistics provider with decades of experience managing freight across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. We also operate drayage services and solutions in several ports across the continent, including a solid presence in the Los Angeles drayage market. With our extensive experience within the logistics industry and vast network of carriers, warehouses, transloading, and drayage services, we are well-positioned to provide a streamlined drayage process for your logistics and supply chain needs across California. Request a quote today to get started