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When to Use a Drop Trailer Program

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When To Use A Drop Trailer Program - Trailer entering to a warehouse
Steve Thompson
Steve Thompson
September 10, 2021

Shippers use drop trailers, which are containers that a driver leaves at a shipping facility for the recipient to load and unload when they choose. Then the original or next driver picks up the trailer. Here are important points for logistics firms to know about when to use and not use a drop trailer program.

Drop Trailer Advantages

In order to know when to use a drop trailer program, you must understand its advantages. The main benefit is pick-up flexibility, allowing both the delivery firm and the recipient to follow their own timetables. This process facilitates the new electronic logging device (ELD) mandate in the logistics industry, which calls for shippers to reduce loading and unloading times. The drop trailer method avoids unnecessary wait times for loading and unloading that may cut into driving time.

When a Drop Trailer is a Right Option

Drop Trailer Program - Dropping a trailer

An appropriate time to use a drop trailer program is when regular shipping develops inconveniences or there's a need for greater efficiency. Sometimes the availability of labor is a factor in determining when to use a drop trailer in order to ensure shipped items make it to their destinations safely and on schedule. Here are other times to consider a drop trailer:

1. Consistent Shipping Volume: A good time to use a drop trailer program is when you have regular shipments of similar consistent volume a few times per week. This arrangement cuts costs for carriers and shippers.

2. When Load Times are Excessive: You can beat long loading times with a drop trailer, which can cut penalties and prevent higher rates. It can also strengthen relationships between carriers and shippers.

3. When More Space is Needed for Loading: Shippers open up more space on docks with the use of a drop trailer program. Moving certain large items may require several workers who need more space.

4. Create More Flexibility - Using a drop trailer loosens up tight delivery windows, as not all drivers need to operate on strict deadlines. Reducing stress can make work more enjoyable and productive. It also potentially reduces detention charges and fines related to late arrivals.

5. Time-consuming Loads - Loads that take over an hour can create a domino effect of delays that affect other entities. The more flexible option of dropping loads for pickup allows each party to operate on their own schedule. It allows drivers to spend more time driving and focus on getting to the right destination on time.

When to Avoid a Drop Trailer

Person checking on the perishable food inside a warehouse

Drop trailers are not always the best shipping option, such as for shipping perishable items like food. Perishable products simply must be delivered by a certain deadline to avoid losses and complaints. Any time-sensitive goods are inappropriate for a drop trailer program. You should also avoid this program when there is insufficient space available to do so. Yet another reason to avoid this method is if the carrier is not an entity you consider to be a long-term or frequent business partner.

Working With a 3PL

Logistics concept - Different transportation methods

Outsourcing to a third-party logistics (3PL) service is becoming more common for manufacturers who don't want to invest in their own shipping divisions. A 3PL may include a drop trailer program as a way to attract certain clients that want more flexibility. Competitive 3PLs invest in digital technology and sophisticated logistics trends that not all manufacturers keep up with. Drop trailers reduce the need for tight scheduling and allow the carrier and shipper to plan pickups together that are convenient for both parties instead of a one-size-fits-all plan.

A 3PL that facilitates drop trailer programs helps save manufacturers time and money while creating more convenient loading opportunities. Leaving these details to logistics specialists can improve on-time deliveries and reduce time wasted at delivery terminals. Using a 3PL makes it easier to match shippers and carriers who participate in drop trailer programs. A seasoned 3PL will make sure warehouse inventory does not sit in a drop trailer too long.


Knowing when to use a drop trailer program is crucial to making logistics more efficient. Sometimes these drops are necessary for two entities in a supply chain to work together effectively. Learn more about pallet sales near me and consider a drop trailer program as a solution to make shipping more convenient for supply chains.