What Is Drayage and Why It Matters For Freight Shipping

Drayage is a key component of the supply chain. Without it, the movement of goods would be a huge inconvenience, leading to inefficiencies in distribution and causing financial losses. The best freight carrier services always ensure that they have reliable drayage services to avoid disruptions in their operations, underscoring the importance of these services.

What is Drayage?

Simply put, drayage is a type of specialized transportation service for freight, usually over short distances. The container shipping industry is heavily reliant on drayage services. Each year, tens of millions of drayage movements occur, helping facilitate cargo movements.

Drayage also refers to the specialized services needed for moving cargo containers from a truck or rail. A typical drayage service involves moving a container from a rail car to a ship or vice versa. Similarly, moving a cargo container from a ship to a truck or warehouse also requires drayage services.

Drayage services, like any other business, must be licensed and insured. Given that drayage services involve the movement of huge steel containers, accidents occur every once in a while. Insurance coverage helps in such instances.

Unlike long-distance shipping, drayage services tend to be confined to one geographical area, usually a city or a county. Typical drayage services operate within a specific area, like moving cargo for a few miles or less.

In addition to the above, drayage could also mean:

i)The vehicles used to collect cargo containers at a border crossing, port, or intermodal point.

  1. ii) The fee charged for such services

Why Does Drayage Matter?

Drayage services make the process of moving freight between short distances much easier. Take a busy port, for example. A typical major port receives billions of dollars worth of goods every day, sometimes within hours. This can create a logistical nightmare for the operators who have to figure out how to move the goods through the port quickly enough. This logistical nightmare is increased during peak seasons. Despite technological advances and the use of modern machinery, issues still arise when it comes to moving cargo around. Sometimes, goods are coming in faster than they’re being shipped out of the port. This can overwhelm the distribution process, leading to inefficiencies, delays, and financial penalties or losses.

Properly-managed drayage services help to avoid such problems. Many of these distribution problems occur during the movement of freight over the first mile after it leaves the ship. Drayage services are designed to handle the pace and intensity of this process.

Shipping process points are essential to a company’s distribution chain. Any disruption in the efficient transfer of goods between these process points can lead to serious logistical problems for a company. Drayage helps to avoid such problems.

It helps to think of drayage as an inter-shipping service, one that provides a reliable and efficient way of moving goods from one form of transportation to another. A good example is when cargo needs to be shifted from the rail car to a truck.

Classification of Drayage Services

Not all drayage services are the same. The following are the different categories into which they’re classified:

  1. i) Inter-carrier drayage: This is the typical drayage service that most people think about, involving the transfer of goods between different carriers. A good example is moving cargo from a rail station to a trucking terminal.
  2. ii) Intra-carrier drayage: This is when cargo is moved between different hubs belonging to the same carrier. A good example is when freight is moved from a rail hub to an intermodal one.

iii) Expedited drayage: This is when cargo containers are moved quickly. It’s ideal for time-sensitive transportation schedules.

iv)Pier drayage: This method is ideal for transporting freight from a rail terminal to a pier or shipping dock, using highways for faster transportation.

  1. v) Door-to-door drayage: Here, the goods are moved by container trucks to retail customers.
  2. vi) Shuttle drayage: Shuttle drayage involves moving a shipping container or a similar unit to a temporary location as it awaits final transportation. This is ideal when the hub of origin might be overcrowded.

Of course, your shipping needs will determine the kind of drayage services you choose. It’s not uncommon for a business to need several types of drayage services during a single delivery run. For example, you may need to move cargo off a ship to a temporary storage facility before using container trucks to transport them to your retail customers. In this instance, you’ll employ different drayage services during each stage of the delivery.

Intermodal shipping is when cargo is moved using multiple shipping methods. This might include a combination of airplanes, ships, and trucks. Drayage services help to facilitate the movement of goods during phases of intermodal shipping.

Ultimately, drayage services help to remove a lot of the inconveniences associated with moving goods around.