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The Port of Savannah is a strategic facility for businesses and supply chains operating in the Southeast. The port has one of the best infrastructural facilities in the country. This includes modern terminals and efficient rail and road connections, all of which are a testament to its strategic importance. Its access to the Atlantic is not just a geographical advantage but a gateway to the rest of the world, playing a crucial role in facilitating international trade. 

The port is a distribution hub for a significant portion of the U.S. population, enabling the seamless movement and trade of goods and services across the entire Southeast. This makes Savannah drayage a critical lynchpin to trans-Atlantic trade. 

Effective drayage will allow shippers and freight forwarders to effectively move their goods out of the port to desired destinations across the region.

Port of Savannah: A Critical Gateway

As of December 2023, the Port of Savannah was the fourth busiest port in the United States. 

The port handled 4.08 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) between January and October in the same year. In 2022, it handled imports and exports valued at $137.5 billion. In 2023, the same port handled 11.4% of the country’s loaded international containers — the largest national market share.

But beyond growth and handling more containers and cargo, the port of Savannah has leveraged infrastructural advancements and technological integrations to boost efficiency and capacity. Some of these include:

  • Modern terminals are equipped with automated cranes and high-speed cargo handling systems, allowing for expedited cargo loading and unloading times.
  • Heavy investments are being made to enhance its rail network, which will allow seamless container transfers between ships and trains and improve the overall cargo flow.
  • Installation of a terminal operating system that assists with optimizing operations and tracking cargo movement in real time. The technology also enhances transparency across the entire facility.
  • Leveraging data analytics to identify bottlenecks promptly and enhance its efficient allocation of resources. The insights from the data analytics also help predict demand or cargo volumes. This way, it can plan for them proactively.

The Unique Logistics Challenge At The Port of Savannah

The port of Savannah is an experience that can come from the correct application and technology integration into operations.

However, although the port of Savannah has gone out of its way to ensure technological integration and robust infrastructure investment, it still has some logistical hurdles. The logistical hurdles make it challenging for businesses and supply chains to streamline operations and move goods seamlessly. It also impacts the efficiency and capacity of the port to handle more containers.

What are some of these challenges?


Serving the entire Southeast makes the port of Savannah a significant fixture in international trade.

Since the end of the pandemic, the port of Savannah has experienced significant growth in cargo volumes and trade. But this surge seems to be overwhelming the existing infrastructure. The problem has led to congestion, making clearing and moving goods effectively a challenge. The situation escalates during peak seasons, leading to disruptions or downtimes for many supply chains operating out of the port.

The labor shortage is also a challenge for the port, as it finds it challenging to recruit workers who can efficiently handle cargo movement.

The increased cargo volumes moving in and out of the port has created more demand for trucks and trailers. More demand means tight availability of trailers to move cargo, so clearing containers becomes a significant hurdle, leading to congestion at the terminal.

Container Turnaround Time

Because of the congestion, containers find it challenging to move in and out of the port efficiently.

However, beyond congestion, factors like slow customs clearance processes or logistical issues with onward transportation also make it problematic. All of this increases the container dwelling time. However, the problem with container dwelling times, other than late fees for the shippers and carriers, is that it is impossible to process other incoming cargo. Again, this impacts the port’s capacity.

Ultimately, the delivery of goods to the consumers is also impacted. It is a lose-lose situation for the port and the shippers.

What Are The Strategies The Port is Implementing to Overcome These Challenges

Being one of the major ports in the country, the port of Savannah understands that it has to mitigate these challenges before they cascade and become too big to manage. The port is implementing the following strategies to improve operations:

Boosting Infrastructural Investment

The port of Savannah has recently made significant investments and strides to improve its overall efficiency and capacity by optimizing its rail network and upgrading its terminals. However, it has gone beyond that to equip these terminals with automated cranes and high-speed cargo handling systems.

Collaboration With Stakeholders

The port constantly communicates with trucking companies, shipping lines, and customs authorities. This allows them to work together to streamline processes, allowing for faster cargo movement.

Leveraging Automation

It is expanding the use of AGVs to handle containers more effectively and efficiently within the terminals. By automating this process, labor is less reliant on it. The port can also improve output by operating 24/7, thereby clearing out congestion faster.

Strategic Optimization in Savannah Drayage

By improving the infrastructure and leveraging more technology solutions, the port of Savannah can increase efficiency and improve its capacity to clear containers.

With improved efficiency, the port can eliminate congestion and improve container turnaround time. Businesses, shippers, and supply chains operating through the port can reduce their costs by processing and moving out the cargo within their free days. This eliminates payment for demurrage and detention. 

At this point, drayage becomes necessary and a great strategy for enhancing or optimizing the logistics process for businesses and their supply chains.

Why Visibility is Critical In Drayage Operations

Drayage allows supply chains to effectively clear and transport their goods from the ports to a warehouse or transloading facility to continue the next leg of the logistics operation.

By enhancing visibility in the drayage operations, more supply chains can achieve the following:

Better Planning

The drayage companies do not have to work blindly. Visibility allows them to allocate trucks promptly. In cases where there are delays in clearing the container, the companies can also reallocate resources to ensure operations continue without a hitch.

Enhanced Communication

Through visibility, all stakeholders in logistics and supply chain operations can understand and follow the clearing process closely. This allows for more efficiency and optimized outputs. Real-time tracking technology also helps enhance communication and collaboration. It leads to more reliable shipment timing.

Faster Issue Resolution

Investing in visibility enhances transparency across the entire logistics process. This allows quicker identification of bottlenecks or disputes, allowing the supply chain and logistics provider to resolve them quickly.

Techniques for Maintaining Operations Despite External Disruptions 

External disruptions in the drayage process are not new.

However, with the right strategy, businesses, supply chains, and their drayage providers can manage them effectively. There are two main strategies for achieving this. They are:

Contingency Planning

These are proactive plans to prevent the total collapse of the logistics and supply chain process in the event of a disruption. It typically means having resources on standby to take the shock and prevent the system from shutting down. Impeccable contingency planning will typically have the following elements: collaboration, supplier diversification, and inventory management. They allow for continuous operations.

Flexibility and Agility

Integrating technology and innovative strategies allows the supply chain to become more flexible. This is critical because when disruptions occur, the supply chain and logistics operations can adapt and reallocate resources to meet demands.

Proactive Management

Preemptively identifying potential issues, bottlenecks, and disruptions in the process allows for proactive decision-making in finding the solution.

Key Industries Reliant On The Port of Savannah

Some of the industries that rely heavily on the port of Savannah are:

  • Automotive Industry
  • Manufacturing Industry
  • Retail Industry
  • Chemical Industry
  • Agricultural Industry

Benefits of Drayage on These Industries

  • Increased Efficiency: By tailoring the drayage solutions to these industries, the pickup and transportation process can be streamlined to ensure timely deliveries. It will also minimize disruptions.
  • Cost Reduction: Running an efficient drayage operation will minimize or completely eliminate demurrage and detention fees. Optimization will also help reduce the cost of fuel and wear and tear, effectively leading to cost savings.
  • Reduce Product Damage: Implementing and integrating proper handling in the drayage operations allows the supply chain to reduce damages. It is especially important in temperature-controlled transportation and proper handling to minimize product damage or spoilage.
  • Enhanced Compliance: Drayage businesses and logistics providers that are well versed in each or a particular industry assist these industries with ensuring adherence to relevant regulations and documentation requirements.
  • Greater Visibility and Control: Real-time tracking and communication in the drayage operation provide greater control over the drayage process and cargo status.

Fostering Strong Industry Partnerships

Third-party logistics and drayage providers are the backbone of global supply chains, so a strong, experienced, expert logistics provider like LGI would benefit your operations. This way, you are sure you have a partner with the resources to tailor the drayage solution to suit your needs. LGI runs dray operations across most ports in the US, including Savannah drayage. Request a free quote today.