What is Pre-Pull?
A pre-pul is when an ocean container is picked up from the port and stored at the trucker’s yard, instead of being delivered instantly. It is often used as a way to help avoid demurrage fees.
When and why is a pre-pull necessary?
A pre-pull is often a necessary measure to take, as a way to avoid costly demurrage fees if one can’t accept the delivery before the “Last Free Day,” or if your final delivery location requires an appointment. Sometimes a receiver requests an early morning delivery, which means that the container is likely going to be picked up the day before and stored at a truck yard for delivery in the morning. This can also be known as a pre-pull.
Full container deliveries often require two appointments; a pick up at the port or railyard, and a delivery appointment at the receiving facility. It is the dispatcher’s job to match up the available port appointments with the receiver’s appointment. They also have to make sure they select a port appointment before the storing process begins at the port. These appointments are limited and are based on container location at the port. In other words, truckers don’t get to choose the time slot, it is rather allotted to them by the container depot system.
The same thing happens when the appointments are too far apart outside of the port operating hours. This means that pre-pull is required for long-distance deliveries, as drivers have limits on their driving hours. A port pick-up may take 2-3 hours, leaving the drivers with only 5-6 hours to deliver the container, get them unloaded and return the containers to the port. If this cannot be accommodated in an 8-9 hour window, the container is normally pre-pulled the day before.
It is worth noting that some ports don't have appointment systems and pre-pulls are not as common. In these cases the driver needs to show up to the port early enough to allow time for the pick up and the drive to the receiver before the delivery appointment time.
In all cases the easiest solution is to ask the warehouse if they can receive without appointments. If the warehouse is in the port vicinity, the container can be dropped off for unloading and picked up when empty. The warehouse would be able to unload at their own pace without the driver waiting. Truckers prefer this option, as it does not delay their schedules and does not require an extra trip or pre-pull.