“PSP,”* one of the world’s leading premium spirits producers, operates a complex global supply chain spanning dozens of countries. In the U.S., PSP distills a large number of its products in Arkansas and then transports these products via ISO tank to the Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals at Port Houston for loading onto overseas vessels. Transporting liquor and other alcoholic beverages requires navigating a myriad of state-level rules and regulations, procurement of specialized equipment, and access to a pool of drivers that maintain the permits necessary to legally transport alcohol-based products to secure maritime locations.
Challenges & Needs
Due to its large volumes and complex transportation needs, PSP found it challenging to maintain an adequate equipment and driver base for its drayage operations. To achieve success, PSP required a highly specialized solution, including:
Specialized Service: ISO tank transportation is inherently a specialized service, which was compounded by PSP’s need for drayage services, including power only moves.
Specialized Equipment: Because PSP is shipping alcoholic liquid in bulk rather than bottled or canned form, PSP requires ISO tank containers. Unlike a typical TEU shipping container, ISO tanks require a specialized ISO tank chassis for transport. These chassis are less common, and at times, undergo significant shortages.
Specialized Drivers: Safely piloting an ISO tank loaded chassis requires additional training, protocols, and skills. ISO tanks have a higher center of gravity than standard dry vans, and the movement of the liquid inside the tanks during transport can affect the handling of the tractor and chassis. Drivers must have experience in properly accelerating and braking the vehicle to prevent liquid “surge,” which is excessive movement of the liquid within the ISO tank which can cause a driver to lose control or destabilize the vehicle. Drivers must also obtain and maintain a tanker endorsement which certifies that they have been trained to properly transport bulk liquids.
Specialized Permits and Approvals:
Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Endorsement: Drivers with liquid transportation experience and hazmat certification are limited in supply and can be like finding “a needle in a haystack.”
Transportation Worker Identification Credential: Commonly known as a “TWIC card,” this credential is required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act for workers who need access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels. TSA conducts a security threat assessment (background check) to determine a person’s eligibility and issues the credential. Without a TWIC card, drivers cannot access ports for pickups or deliveries.
Vessel Approval: The underlying carrier’s SCAC code needs to be approved by the vessel in order for drivers to pick up from or deliver to a vessel. This can get complicated as PSP may have as many as 20 vessels in use at any given time, and the driver needs to be approved by each one.
Custodian Bond: Custodian Bonds, also known as Activity Code 2 Custodian of Bonded Merchandise Bonds, are required for operations which carry or hold merchandise not yet entered into the commerce of the U.S., for export or entry at a later time or place. 3PLs serving PSP’s needs are required to hold this bond, which essentially makes the 3PL liable for taxes associated with the transported goods.
“The communication that Sheer does is something I wish my other brokers did… The level of customer service has spoken volumes.”
“Sheer is 100% mission critical to us.”
Sheer Logistics created a dedicated drayage program specifically tailored to PSP’s highly specialized needs. To build capacity, Sheer leased ISO tank chassis, ultimately creating a dedicated pool over more than 50 chassis.
The Sheer team also sourced a third-party yard to store the chassis when not in use. Sheer required a yard with a crane capable of lifting tanks off of the chassis. Sheer sourced a yard and partnered with them to design a solution that also provides inspection and maintenance of the chassis, including tires, brakes, brake lights, etc.
Sheer leveraged its extensive carrier base in the region to identify carriers whose drivers maintained the necessary skills and credentials, including ISO tank hauling experience, HazMat endorsements and TWIC cards. Sheer advised the carrier base on how to secure vessel approvals to allow for access to the ports, and Sheer obtained the required Custodian Bond.
Sheer provides dedicated, on-demand service to PSP, handling drayage and power-only moves to and from Arkansas to the Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals at Port Houston as well covering as intra-Houston moves when needed. This service is exceptionally time critical; when PSP charters a vessel, it can cost as much as $75,000 per day. Sheer provides expedite and team service to meet these tight deadlines, having delivered as many as 100 loads in less than a week – earning the Sheer team “mission critical” status from PSP.
*The company name has been anonymized for the purposes of this case study.
AT A GLANCE
Liquor, Wine & Spirits
Bulk ISO Tank
ISO Tank Brokerage
Power Only Moves
ISO Chassis Management
Specialized Permits & Approvals