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Drayage is a service within intermodal shipping that specializes in the movement of cargo short distances. Because this form of shipping is mostly by ground, it fills an important gap between the import or export of goods by facilitating the loading or unloading of large carriers. Port drayage services focus on the movement of goods in and about the piers where ships dock to deposit their goods.

The term drayage evolved from a time before the industrial revolution. In those early days of trade, ships would unload their cargo and use large carts drawn by horses to move large boxes and containers only a short distance from the pier to a warehouse or a train loading platform. These carts were called drays. Today drayage means about the same thing except trucks are used to do the hauling. The distance traveled is still short, and most of the work is completed within a single day’s time frame within a single metropolitan area.

Types of Drayage

The intermodal shipping industry has become very sophisticated due to the millions of steel containers that are transported each year using ships, trucks, planes and rail cars. As a result of the sheer numbers of cargo moving about the world IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) has devised a system for defining how different types of drayage services perform the task of completing their role in the larger shipping business.

Expedited Drayage is the term used for cargo that is shipped quickly, and this usually indicates time sensitive material or products. Shuttle Drayage indicates that goods are being moved to a temporary storage facility. This occurs when a warehouse or storage lot might be overcrowded, and a temporary space needs to be created. Door-to-door drayage is when the cargo is delivered directly from the ship to the customer’s door.

Intra-carriage drayage is the movement of goods from different storage areas, but the same carrier is handling the shipping, and they are shipping it to locations that are owned by the same company. On the other hand, Inter-carriage drayage is the movement of freight between different carriers and to locations owned by different companies. Inter-carriage drayage is the type of drayage that most people are familiar with.

Pier drayage is transporting goods from the land to the dock or the pier using railway cars or trucks to complete the transfer.

Intermodal Shipping and Drayage

When a ship docks in a port the unloading process begins. The steel containers that were carried on the ship are unloaded onto trucks, and the trucks leave the pier to deliver the container to a designated location. This drayage might take the truck a short distance to a warehouse that is close to the pier, or it might involve a trip to the railroad yard where the container is loaded into a railroad car for national delivery.

If the container is dropped at a warehouse the contents of the container might be divided, loaded onto smaller trucks, and then delivered in bulk to distribution warehouses or even directly to the final destination.

If the cargo is coming from a manufacturing facility inland that company could use a railroad to ship the cargo to the shipyard, and there unload the containers from the railroad car directly to the ship. The shipper could also choose to unload the railroad cars at a warehouse and use trucks to make the final journey to the ship. All of this drayage activity happens at and around a port. The service that facilitates this cargo movement is port drayage, and the main vehicle used for the transportation of goods is the truck.

Asiana USA is an international shipping company that is well-versed in the use of drayage to move goods from the ship to the land and finally to its destination. Call us for a quote at 855-500-1808.

Tristan is a professional writer having had careers as a teacher of English, school administrator, and as a broker in real estate sales. He has gained a great deal of legal experience through his service as the president of a teacher’s union, a member of the board for a real estate association, and as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the real estate board of directors. Before beginning a full-time job as a freelance writer, he was the Executive Director of the Global Business Alliance for a local Chamber of Commerce and sat on the Government Affairs Committee for the Chamber.
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