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Shipping, receiving, and moving goods around the world is an important part of how we do business. Supply chains for companies of all sizes need to run correctly and on time.

Goods including furniture, consumer products, foods, automotive parts, machinery, chemicals and more are shipped daily across the world. Combining, transporting, and dividing up shipments all over the world is only achieved through much research, careful planning, and establishing travel routes.

In order to create an efficient way to move the different types of containers around, logistics companies do a great deal of research and planning to create a sophisticated network. When shipments travel from one point to another, they will often travel through a number of intermodal points. Major cities around the world are connected together with a network of intermodal drayage points, via rail, land, water, and air routes. From those points, cargo will get loaded onto trucks to make final deliveries to clients.

Intermodal Drayage

Intermodal drayage is a global industry that plans, packs, and moves massive amounts of shipments on a daily basis. Logistics companies build large networks with truckers, rail yards, and ports to plan effective shipping routes. In having the network planned out ahead of time, logistics companies can use intermodal drayage to optimize container loads, delivery routes, and costs per shipments.

This provides good service to their customers. Global trade and supply chain management is becoming more integrated. It is important to have an evolving and improving system that organizes how, when, and where cargo is going. This allows a shipping company to plan, track, and report real time shipping details to their clients and partners.

Intermodal drayage involves moving cargo from a starting point to a delivery point using the most efficient means necessary. A lot of the time, this means your goods will travel by sea, air, rail, and land before reaching their final destination. The loading and unloading of your cargo at each of these points is handled by your shipping partner of choice, who will handle transportation and drayage for you.

Drayage is the short-distance hauls made from a port or intermodal point to its next destination. This mostly occurs by means of short-haul trucking and is mostly how goods reach their final destination. Drayage is a great alternative to long-haul trucking as it’s safer and closer for drivers. Drayage drivers can make trips back and forth between main intermodal drayage points multiple times a day.

Drayage Transportation

The logistics of coordinating and shipping products, crates, and containers around the world rely on careful planning and calculations. Your shipment will travel on a number of modes of transport. Drayage is the movement of shipments between short distances. This is often between a major port or railyard to local warehouses, malls, and retailers.

When cargo is shipped, it will usually begin in a container and moved by ship, train, and truck to an intermodal drayage point. Intermodal drayage is an alternative to long-haul shipping and trucking. Logistics companies can organize multiple shipments and put together strategic shipping plans.

These containers can be holding a number of different types of goods for different recipients. As they travel closer to their destination, the shipments will be split into different smaller shipments, redirected at intermodal points. Freight forwarders carefully review the contents and recipients of each of the containers, and prepare them to be transported efficiently.

Intermodal drayage begins when freighted goods arrive at an intermodal point, such as a warehouse, regional seaport, or railyard. Cargo will be loaded onto its next mode of transport if it has not reached its final destination. Hundreds of containers arrive and leave intermodal points all over the world daily. By using detailed lists, manifests, bonds, and delivery documents, freight forwarders determine the next point and mode of travel for each shipment.

If the cargo is going to its final point next, it will likely be put on a truck to be delivered to its final destination. If it is to move to another intermodal point, it will be loaded onto a ship, train, airplane, or even truck to continue its trip. The length of travel, the number of cargo containers, and the proximity of transportation methods to the port also determine how cargo will travel next.

Intermodal Transportation

The intermodal drayage process takes place in both directions in global port and rail cities every day. This requires a lot of coordination and an extended network of movers, shippers, truckers, and conductors. As a result, it is possible to move huge amounts of goods and cargo across the world efficiently.

Many intermodal points will be the hub for all modes of drayage and transportation. Railyards are connected to ports so that containers and cargo can quickly be loaded onto trains to move to other hub locations. Many large port cities use a connected major ocean port and major rail yard to manage shipments going to different parts of the country.

The port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach combined make up the largest port in the United States. They are connected by the Alameda Corridor, a rail and truck route between the port and the downtown LA train station and rail yards. Almost 10 million TEUs, or twenty-foot container units, are handled per year.

The two intermodal points with the connecting route allow for an optimal shipping and receiving network in Los Angeles. As the largest port in the United States, much of the shipping to the Western US arrives there, and makes its way across the country to its final destination.

Asiana USA is conveniently located near the Alameda Corridor, allowing for core logistics with main intermodal points to be efficiently handled. Asiana USA uses a combination of rail, sea, land, and air, allowing us to utilize efficient shipping routes to ensure goods travel successfully all over North America and globally. The advantages of using intermodal drayage services include reduced costs, lower environmental impact, and timely deliveries.

Truck Transport

Most often, trucks make the final drayage of a shipping route to the final destination. Trucks will often make multiple trips to and from large intermodal drayage points daily. Trucking has mainly been used in long-haul shipping and has been the most common option for many industries. This has changed over recent years, as has the truck industry itself.

Gas prices, safety regulations, and driver shortages have had an impact on this method of transport. Intermodal drayage shipping takes the pressure off an already pressured trucking industry and divides its loads amongst the different modes of travel. As fuel prices continue to increase, finding more effective ways to move cargo long distances is more important.

Technology also plays a vital role in this, as the world is now seeing alternative transport vehicles. Many manufacturers have introduced a number of hi-tech features in new vehicles. Truck manufacturers are exploring incorporating cameras, alternative fuel sources, and automatic transmissions.

Cameras and self-driving options for the near future will play a heavy role on how the trucking industry changes, as well as the labor force behind it. While this change heavily depends on the infrastructure around it, some companies have already started to incorporate some of these technologies. Automatic transmissions in trucks attract new and younger drivers, while cameras allow for added awareness and reactivity.


Rail transport has played a large factor in the efficiency, reliability, safety, and sustainability of the shipping industry. Trains can transport more cargo more efficiently. In addition, using trains to move cargo requires less fuel, labor, and transit time.
One train can haul over 200 containers, where a truck can haul one or two. That means for every 200 containers transported by truck, 100-200 drivers would be needed.

Relying more heavily on rail transport provides benefits in time, cost, safety and environmental impact, as well as allows truck drivers to make more short trips a day and avoid long runs across the country. This is a huge step in supply chain management and optimizes the daily movement of goods.

In the near future, we can expect to see improvements and development in rail transport and the technologies around it. Companies have already been exploring hi-tech solutions for higher speeds, more integrated rail lines, as well as completely innovative technologies. The ability for one train to pull such a large amount of cargo makes this method highly effective. With the incorporation of modern technologies, this can only improve.


For smaller or time-sensitive cargo, air freight can usually be the preferred method of shipment. For the transport of perishable goods, time is a crucial component. Air freight may be the required method of transport in such cases. Moving cargo by plane allows shippers to move goods anywhere in the world in a short amount of time.

Additionally, we live in a consumer-centric world, and some buyers may opt for premium or next day services, which are usually accomplished via air freight. Air transport can be used for both short- and long-haul shipping, but cargo must be smaller. With international travel, security, regulations, rising oil prices, and even demand are factors to consider. Shipping things by air can get very expensive, and therefore should only be used as necessary.


Most shipping occurs via oceans and seas. Ships can carry a massive amount of cargo, with some of the largest ships transporting over 20,000 TEU in a single trip. Containers full of goods are consolidated and moved to and from intermodal points daily, and moving them across oceans is a core part of our global supply chain.

When shipping your cargo via containers, you will have to decide if you are shipping an FCL or LCL. An FCL is a full container load and as a shipper, you will have an entire container to use. Some shippers may opt for this option even if their cargo does not take up more than half a container. This option may be chosen for sensitive cargo.
If your cargo takes up less than half a container, you can ship an LCL.

If you are shipping an FCL, you’ll need a bill of lading, a commercial invoice, and packing list. A detailed description of goods, quantities, and weights will need to be provided in English and include the cost of freight, name, and address of shipper and consignee. It is important for all this information to be as accurate as possible to avoid any shipping delays or additional fees.

If you are shipping an LCL, you will have to contact a freight forwarding and consolidation service, so that they can combine your shipment with that of another shipper. An LCL is calculated by volume and must be palletized to be loaded onto a container. Some providers will request that you handle all packing and palletization. However, a good shipping partner can offer these services for you, and offer them within the service you already have with them.

Since you are using a freight forwarding service when shipping an LCL, they will handle customs and paperwork for you. This can be very helpful when working with foreign ports, especially for the first time. Additionally, even if you are shipping an FCL, you may opt to use a freight forwarding, 3PL, or 4PL service for exactly this reason.

At Asiana USA, we can offer the right kind of support for your shipments and can handle customs, duty, and fee paperwork for you.

Types of Services

In addition to shipping and freight forwarding, such companies will offer a number of other services that work in conjunction with main shipping activity. In order to optimize their worldwide delivery systems, shipping companies may expedite or hold cargo to make deliveries more efficient. Freight forwarding and shipping companies may also offer packing, warehousing, and storage services.

Cargo arriving at one intermodal point may not get directly loaded onto its next mode of transport. Instead, it may need to be warehoused temporarily, until it is consolidated and ready for shipment. Freight forwarders who also offer warehousing services can plan shipments farther in advance and have more shipping routes and options available to them.

Warehousing solutions allows freight forwarders to pickup, receive, and temporarily store your cargo. If your shipment is getting consolidated with another one, keeping it safely stored at a warehouse until the other shipment arrives is an important step in the global supply chain. Without this feature, shippers would have to move cargo as it arrives, rather than collect and organize shipments together for more efficient travel.

A freight forwarder with a warehousing option will organize and prepare many shipments daily. By doing so, and being aware of the shipments dates ahead of time, a freight forwarding company can streamline shipments set to arrive or depart to and from other intermodal points.

Many freight forwarders may also offer packing services. This helps both the shipping company as well as the shipper, as it ensures a good and efficient packing job. The shipping company knows the value of well-packed cargo and palletized shipments. They will make sure your goods are packed in a more efficient way, which means they can ship more efficiently and are less likely to be damaged in transit.

Once your goods enter or leave a country or territory, they will be subject to certain customs, duty, and fees. These change from port to port and from country to country, so it is important to make sure all your paperwork is accurate, and all duties are correctly estimated. Some countries may have certain restrictions or limitations that you will need to be made aware of. In addition, when importing or exporting with a foreign country, shippers may need to deal with surprise fees, bribes, or sometimes even theft.

If you are unfamiliar with the shipping process or are a new shipper, this can be overwhelming. If it’s not handled correctly, it can result in additional fees, penalties, or delays. Working with a shipping partner that is familiar with such practice will save you time and money. A trusted shipping agent like Asiana USA can help facilitate these details as well handle a number of other services for you.

It is important to make sure your cargo is properly insured as well. If something happens to your shipment en route or at a local or foreign port, you’ll want to make sure you have the right insurance for it. Entire containers can get lost at sea, specific items may be lost, stolen, or damaged during transport, and imports may be held or delayed.

While these issues are rare, they do occur, and you want to make sure you are protected, and that your shipping partner can quickly and efficiently handle this for you. An experienced shipping partner will know how to approach and handle these situations, making it easier for you to focus on your business.

There are different kinds of insurance when shipping, depending on where you are shipping to, the value of your cargo, and your experience as a shipper. Some shipping terms will require that you cover the responsibility of the shipment until it’s delivered. Other terms will place responsibility on buyers or shipping partners. It is important to account for this, and make sure your cargo is insured and fees covered every step of the way.

A freight forwarding company will be able to handle Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) for you. In order to prevent such shipping issues, DDP requires the seller to ensure the goods being shipped until they are received at their final destination. Under these terms, the seller bears the maximum responsibility during export and import. So having the correct insurance when facing issues is very important.

It is important to accurately estimate and report delivered duty paid. Your shipment may be delayed at a foreign or local port if customs determine that it is not correctly reported. This particularly applies when importing items into the United States.
If you delivered duty paid is lower than what the customs department estimated your duty should be, a shipment will be held until this is rectified.

This can result in additional fees and delays, so it’s important to make sure delivered duty paid is as accurate as possible. At Asiana USA, we are familiar with foreign customs and our experts will accurately assess your shipment, estimate the right delivered duty paid, and issue the correct bonds for your cargo. Working with an experienced partner can save you time and money in the long run.

Logistics: 3PL and 4PL Companies

3PL and 4PL supply chain solutions provide cost-effective solutions for businesses that incorporate all of these shipping services. They organize shipment logistics and coordinate multiple deliveries across the globe. A dense network of ports, railyards, warehouses, trucks, and other industrial mainstays allows these companies to create efficient routes to move cargo.

Logistics companies organize large amounts of shipping information from shippers, truck companies, ports, and rail yards, and strategically plan accordingly. They know their shipping routes ahead of time, and where they can add cargo onto supply chains. A logistics company may quickly be able to combine your smaller shipment with a larger one to expedite shipping and lower your costs. By being aware of shipping plans ahead of time, these companies can strategically plan out large amounts of shipments together.

A third-party logistics or (3PL) company manages all transportation logistics for your cargo on your behalf. They get your products from one place to another and their services can include warehousing and packing, as well. A 3PL is asset-based and has machinery, warehouses, and vehicles to perform these services. So, the company has a vested interest in optimizing their transportation system and will incorporate your supply chain into its operations.

A 3PL will utilize their own services to perform the shipping, documentation, and customs services, so the quality of service is dependent on the company you choose. Having one logistics company handle all your shipping needs can be a convenient way to keep all your business in one place. However, if you prefer to constantly be looking for new and improved shipping strategies, you may opt for a 4PL.

A 4PL or lead logistics company will hire carriers and vendors based on the best and most efficient routes and costs. They are not invested in a particular in using any particular services, other than based on cost, time, and customer service. In essence, A 4PL manages a 3PL for you. This can be quite beneficial when a business is scaling up its supply chain, as it allows for the best possible and most cost-effective shipping solutions.

Regardless of what kind of logistics partner you choose to work with, it is important to choose one that suits your businesses needs. If you are not a large importer or exporter, you may prefer a more in-house strategy, where all your shipping needs are handled by one company. If you are importing or exporting goods heavily and often, seeking a partner who will constantly be looking for better shipping deals may be a more important issue for you.

Bottom Line

When setting up your supply chain, there are a lot of things to consider. Whether you are a new shipper setting up a supply chain or an experienced importer looking to change your current methods, issues like timing, cost, tracking, flexibility, and experience will all affect the choices you make. Finding a safe, affordable, and reliable way for your goods to travel is of utmost importance for your business.

As a business owner, customer service is also extremely important. Whether its offering a convenient and reliable way to track and monitor your shipments, or helping you deal with a larger issue at a foreign port, you will want an experienced shipping partner by your side. Offering support and expertise at all the steps in the shipping process can greatly help optimize your supply chain and save you money and time.

At Asiana USA, we incorporate these services and strategies to offer our clients a number of convenient and cost-effective options for creating global supply chains. Combining shipping, transportation, customs, and warehousing solutions, we provide solutions for businesses of all sizes, connected globally by our dense shipping network. Call Asiana USA today at (323)-250-9386 to see how you can start optimizing today.

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