When it comes to understanding shipping logistics, it’s important to factor in drayage to your supply chain process. In shipping, drayage is a crucial step in order to keep deliveries moving smoothly. It is typically factored into intermodal shipments, which may use a mixture of travel involving truck, ship, rail, or air transport.

What is drayage?

Drayage is a term used to describe a specialty logistic service within the container shipping industry that carries freight short distances, typically within one city or region. It’s the only way to transfer your goods between intermodal ports or terminals and the next leg of a shipment’s transportation.

Why is drayage important?

Simply put, drayage is the means by which carriers are able to transport cargo and freight from one mode of intermodal shipping to another. Without it, there would be no way to transfer goods between each step in a company’s shipping process.

For example, when a carrier needs to transfer a shipment from a rail car to a ship, they would need to use a drayage service to move containers the short distance between the two modes of freight.

Drayage’s Role In Intermodal Shipping

Intermodal shipping refers to the process of using multiple transportation methods to ship cargo and freight. For efficiency purposes, most intermodal shipments are packaged and shipped within standardized shipping containers that can easily be transferred between modes of transport without having to be unpacked.

Drayage services act as the connecting point between each step in a supply chain’s intermodal shipping process. For instance, drayage services may be used to transport containers from a port’s receiving dock to a trucking terminal where it can continue onwards until its final destination.

Drayage Classifications

The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) has defined a number of different classifications for drayage services. These include:

  • Inter-carrier Drayage: The movement of goods between different carriers. This is generally what most people think of when they think of drayage services. For example, this may include the transporting of goods from a trucking terminal to a rail station.
  • Expedited Drayage: Freight containers that are transported quickly and are best for time-sensitive shipments.
  • Intra-carrier Drayage: Taking freight to two different hubs owned by the same carrier. For instance, cargo might be transported from an intermodal hub to a rail hub.
  • Pier Drayage: A method of using highways to get cargo and freight from an inland terminal to an ocean shipping dock or pier. 
  • Shuttle Drayage: Moving an intermodal unit to a temporary stopping point, which happens often when the point of origin is too overcrowded.
  • Door-to-Door: Delivery by truck of a container to a retail customer. 

The classification of the drayage service you select is dependent on your company’s shipping and supply chain needs.

Why are drayage services needed?

In the United States, drayage carriers must have the necessary licensing and bonding to transport goods. Providers are responsible for moving shipping containers in and out of warehouses, ports and harbors, as well as rail terminals and truckyards. Although drayage may seem like a small portion of the supply chain, it provides a vital role that most processes can’t do without. 
While the distances involved in drayage transport are often short in length, it’s important to have the proper service providers in place to keep your deliveries moving along smoothly. At A Customs Brokerage, our team is equipped and ready to help you with your drayage needs. Our people are logistics experts that can help to optimize your supply chain and ensure that your deliveries flow from one step in your chain to the next.

Now that you have an understanding of what drayage is, are you interested in servicing your company’s drayage needs? Contact our team today to learn more about how A Customs Brokerage can help implement drayage into your logistics process.