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What Is Drayage?

May 16, 2017
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Among the various essential services ContainerPort Group supplies to clients, intermodal drayage often plays a role. Drayage is in integral part of the logistics industry, with many companies utilizing the service as a necessity.

So let’s take a look at what drayage is, its origins, and how it is used by a host of businesses throughout the country and the world.

Intermodal Drayage Overview

Drayage is a term utilized by the shipping and logistics sector to describe the process of transporting goods over short distances. While drayage can be used for minor transporting of goods, usually it is confined to use by the container shipping industry.

Drayage can include the trucking of containerized cargo from port to port, or the cargo might be taken from a port to a rail yard to begin the next leg of its journey, or the cargo may be trucked to its ultimate location. Drayage, though, specifically refers to short distance movements as part of the supply chain process.

In drayage, departure and arrival points are typically part of the same metropolitan area, as opposed to the regional or national movements seen in other forms of shipping.

Some other key insights about intermodal drayage include:

  • Drayage can normally be finished in one shift, as part of a longer length haul during shipping.
  • In addition to the process of short transport of goods, “drayage” also has some additional meanings in the industry. At times, drayage can also refer to a pickup by vehicle to or from an inland or boarder point, an intermodal terminal, or a seaport. Drayage as a term is also at times used as the name of the fee for such services.
  • Container shipping in the international commerce sector is one of the entities that utilizes the term drayage to refer to the charges incurred from using said services.

Also worth noting are the situations drayage is often utilized for. For instance, during a routine freight situation, in which numerous transportation methods are used for shipment (such as through truck or rail), drayage occurs when the fright is transferred from the truck and placed on the train. At this point, shipping documents are updated and in some instances freight may be repackaged for the next leg of its journey.

As you can see, while drayage seems like a small component of the overall supply chain management process, it is a vital one and incorporates a lot of facets worth being aware of.

Intermodal Drayage Process

The intermodal drayage or container drayage process originates with the receiving of freighted goods at an intermodal point, a warehouse, or a marine point. The cargo received is then separated, loaded and taken to its subsequent destination point.

Trucks are the most common vehicle type utilized for this transportation over short distances, with strategic terminals being used close to reception and delivery hubs, allowing for the swift and effective drayage of the goods in question.

At times, companies might also transfer freight to numerous short-term storage facilities, since there can be a fluctuation of open space within a given storage facility.

The History of Drayage

Surprisingly, drayage has a history that stretches back much farther than many would suspect. While current methods for drayage utilize modern shipping and containing equipment, drayage actually predates the current industrial era and originated with older container types.

The term “drayage” come from the name of a house-drawn cart referred to as a “dray.” Because of physical limits of the horses used in this process, delivery only occurred over short distances, usually near marine ports, and railroad and canal terminals.

This methodology was utilized through the 19th Century until the early 1900s, at which time trucks became the standardized equipment for drayage.

Drayage Classifications

If you’re wondering “what is drayage?” learning about the various classification types for this shipping method can help make things clearer.

According to the Intermodal Association of North America, drayage can be split into the following categories:

  • Inter-carrier drayage – This method features the movement of units over a short distance between different carriers, such as with trucking and railroad stations.
  • Expedited drayage – For this method, units are transported over-the-road in a quick and efficient manner for time-sensitive material goods.
  • Intra-carrier drayage – A method similar to that of inter-carrier, intra-carrier takes freight from a rail hub to an intermodal hub, all controlled by the same carrier.
  • Door-to-door drayage – In this method, retail units are taken to a customer through roadways.
  • Shuttle drayage – During shuttle drayage, an intermodal unit is temporarily taken to a parking lot from its hub of origin, with this method being used for both loaded and empty units when overcrowding in the hub occurs.
  • Pier drayage – This method utilizing roadways takes an intermodal unit to a dock or pier from a previous rail hub.

Contact ContainerPort Group for Drayage Services

Now that you have a fuller understanding of what drayage is, you probably can see ways that it could help improve the functionality and optimization of your business’ operations.

If you’re in need of drayage services, or any other intermodal services for your company, be sure to contact us today. Our team would be happy to assist you.