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Marshalling yard is vital to exhibit transportation

If anyone is unaware of the importance a marshalling yard plays in the move-in process for tradeshows, they definitely didn’t come into the industry on the logistics side of things. The marshalling yard is essentially an off-site location that serves as the initial gathering place for exhibits en route to a tradeshow.


The existence of a marshalling yard can trip up unfamiliar carriers.

“The marshaling yard provides a buffer for delivery and pick-up related to a show site,” said Craig Schueller, president of South Coast Logistics, a California-based exhibit transportation company with 45,000 annual tradeshow shipments. “Without the staging area, trucks would be backed up with congestion and delays at the docks or even out on the streets. This would cause problems and delays for all exhibitors.”

This congestion would occur because venues just don’t have enough loading docks to handle all the shipments for any given show at one time, which would create a bottleneck well beyond the convention center.

Keeping trucks in the marshalling yard until its number is called also keeps installation on the show floor running smoothly.

“The yard can control the tempo of how fast trucks can get in and out depending on where each booth is located,” said Scott Haugen, director of operations for AVG Transportation Specialists, a Washington-based company specializing in tradeshow shipping since 1993. “Whether that is because the exhibitors have targeted delivery times based on how long it takes to set up the booths or whether another exhibitor’s booths are blocking certain aisles, the yard can really make or break a show sometimes.”

The existence of a marshalling yard can, however, trip up a carrier that does not have the needed experience to properly handle exhibit transportation. If a carrier is unaware of the yard or the time he may have to wait for access to the docks, the exhibitor can pay the price, especially if the exhibit is a partial load and the carrier has more stops to make.

“When a exhibitor is choosing a carrier for their tradeshow needs, they should first and foremost choose a transportation company who is familiar with tradeshows in general and the ins and outs of how it all works,” said Haugen. “With tradeshows being such a large business in itself, many shipping companies claim to have tradeshow departments, when in all reality, they send it through the same channels as their other freight.”

This is where a knowledgeable carrier can make all the difference. Drivers need to know when the marshalling yard opens up and how early they can check in for unloading. If drivers have more than one exhibitor on the truck, they need to have certified weight tickets ready for each one. A good carrier will also have the weight correctly figured to make things easier on the drayage company.

“The bottom line is that a exhibitor should choose a carrier that specializes in tradeshows so they don’t have to worry about all these details on the back end,” said Haugen. “This gives them more time to focus on what they do and ultimately will make for a much smoother and worry free tradeshow.”

Mismanaged shipment and drivers who are unfamiliar with tradeshows can also create delays for other exhibitors.

“The driver knowledge relating to the process for check in and staging at the marshaling yard has a major impact,” said Schueller. “Knowledgeable carriers and drivers improve the entire process for all exhibitors.”

The marshalling yard staff also has to hold up their end of the bargain for a successful tradeshow move-in.

“The negative effect of a poorly run marshalling yard will fall primarily on the exhibitor,” said Haugen. “Exhibitors schedule their installation and dismantle according to when their booth is being delivered and if the yard is running way behind, the exhibitor could potentially be paying for labor to just wait around for their booth to arrive.”

Although sometimes overlooked, the marshalling yard is an ounce of prevention to a problem that would require several pounds of cure if it didn’t exist. And professionals working on the logistics side of tradeshows all understand one thing.

“The marshaling yard plays a major role in the overall smoothness of the exhibitors’ move-in,” said Schueller.

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