Drayage is an essential aspect of the transportation industry. However, many people don’t know what drayage is or how it works. Because our country relies heavily on logistics, it is crucial to understand this vital service.
What is Drayage?
Drayage refers to transporting goods a short distance between two intermodal points. An intermodal point is a trucking location, train station, warehouse, or seaport. Often, drayage refers to frozen or refrigerated goods, and the loads are usually quite large, sometimes more than 1,000 tons. The containers used for drayage are extremely large. Therefore, drayage is a specialized type of transportation requiring very specific equipment and staff.
How Does Drayage Work?
The process of drayage transports goods quickly over short distances. It usually involves more than one mode of transport, such as trucks, ships, planes, and trains.
An example might be a shipment of new vehicles that arrives at a port in Boston. These vehicles need to be moved to dealerships across the United States via train. Drayage takes over and collects the containers from the seaport and then transports them to the train station. Once each container reaches the next train station, drayage again comes into play as a truck picks up each vehicle and drives it to the individual dealership that purchased it.
Drayage moves shipments along their intermodal stages and helps them reach their final destination by stepping in when necessary. Because each gap may vary, drayage must be very flexible to handle the complexities of each shipment. Drayage helps to iron out the logistics since some portions of a single shipment might need to continue by ship, railway, or truck headed for different locations.
Drayage also includes loading and unloading cargo from one mode of shipment to the next. The new vehicles used in the example above may need to be offloaded from the cargo container and driven onto a double-decker vehicle transport truck or moved onto a train car for their continued journey. Drayage takes care of all of that.
Types of Drayage
Drayage consists of more than one type of transportation. Some of the most common classifications of drayage include:
Inter-Carrier – When a drayage company transfers goods from one mode of transport to another. Such as above with the shipping container to the train.
Intra-Carrier – This is when a company uses the same carrier to handle all the separate steps during intermodal transportation which may include planes, ships, trucks, and trains.
Expedited – Drayage that relies on the quick transportation of goods that require speedy delivery.
Pier – Pier drayage is when a drayage company uses trucks to transport goods to and from a pier.
Door-to-Door – Transports products from shipping containers to the end-user, usually via trucks (think Amazon).
Shuttle – To avoid overcrowding at intermodal hubs, a drayage company will temporarily move goods to a secure location and then back when they are ready to move onto their next stop.