What Is Drayage?
The term drayage is used to describe the transportation of goods over a short distance using ground freight. It plays a critical role in the supply chain, ensuring inventory is taken safely and securely to and from marine ports or other intermodal terminals.
Since most cargo travels internationally in bulk freight containers, it must be broken down at the destination port for distribution to separate facilities and customers. The drayage industry is responsible for overseeing and executing these shorter journeys.
A Brief History of Drayage
Drayage predates the 18th century, long before rail cars and the trucking industry had a major influence on the supply chain process. A dray was a type of cart that was drawn by a horse.
Although these horses and carts could move significant loads, the weight meant they could only travel short distances. Dray horses and operators worked mostly near ocean port facilities, rail yard terminals, and canal docks, mirroring drayage companies of today.
How Does Drayage Work?
Drayage is a specialist service carried out by licensed and bonded logistics industry professionals. It is an essential cog in the international shipping machine used to move freight from large shipping containers to warehouses, storage facilities, or other transport terminals.
While large container ships can take your goods from one port to another, drayage services are needed to remove the merchandise from ocean liners, load them onto trucks, and start their journey to the end customer and vice versa.
Overcoming Logistics Challenges
Drayage can be a complex service, especially when multiple carriers, several modes of transport, and tight deadlines are involved. Shippers can organize basic drayage services without assistance.
However, freight forwarders or a specialty logistics service help businesses save time and money on more complicated intermodal drayage routes. They have the necessary equipment, vehicles, network, and expertise to ensure fast, efficient, and reliable deliveries to the retail customer.
Since drayage involves transporting goods over land, it is conducted mainly by dray trucks, rail cars, or a combination of the two. Different vehicles may be needed depending on the container freight size and weight.
Heavy loads, like raw materials, are transported in large quantities via rail networks. Standard break-bulk cargo can be easily distributed by flat rack drayage trucks, vans, or delivery truck fleets.
The critical difference between container drayage services and other forms of regional or national shipping is the proximity in which they operate. Drayage companies usually establish individual terminals to serve specific areas.
Short-distance transport ensures drayage truckers can complete cargo transportation in a single shift. This approach facilitates fast and efficient product movement, reducing freight delays and disruptions.
What Industries Use Drayage Services?
Drayage services are necessary for virtually all product-based industries. They are particularly important in cold chain logistics. The cold chain logistics industry is responsible for transporting temperature-sensitive cargo and perishables like food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.
Special containers, called reefer containers, are built with cold chain technology designed to maintain the temperature of these goods. The cold supply chain must remain unbroken to ensure food and pharmaceuticals are unspoiled on arrival. Failing to arrange efficient and timely dray services for cold chain products can result in significant losses for shippers.
Drayage is a form of intermodal freight transport. Intermodal transportation simply means that a shipment uses multiple types of vehicles or carriers to travel from the point of origin to the final destination.
Shipping companies often use special intermodal container designs that allow goods to be transferred between ocean liners, planes, trucks, and trains without unpacking them at each cargo terminal.
Classifications of Drayage
The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) recognizes six drayage classifications. Each class is defined to help shippers choose the most effective options for their goods. Some shipping companies offer comprehensive dray services, covering all classifications. However, many operate a niche shipping service, specializing in one particular class.
The six classifications of drayage are:
1. Intra-Carrier Drayage
Intra-carrier drayage involves moving goods between transport hubs using the same drayage company. For example, a dray truck may remove inventory from the ocean liner and transport it to a rail terminal that they also operate. Using the same company often minimizes the risk of delays when transferring items between carriers.
2. Inter-Carrier Drayage
Inter-carrier drayage is when shippers move transport inventory using multiple carriers. A trucking company might carry the goods from a port to a temporary storage facility, which is collected and distributed by a different logistics service.
3. Shuttle Drayage
Shuttle drayage is used to combat issues at destination ports, like congestion. These services take your goods to temporary stopping points and keep them safe until congestion issues are cleared or more dray drivers are available.
4. Expedited Drayage
Expedited drayage is for time-critical shipments. Many freight forwarding services offer expedited drayage to guarantee the fast transfer of shipments when delivery times are tight. This type of service typically increases shipping costs.
5. Pier Drayage
Pier drayage services transport inventory directly from storage facilities or a rail hub to ocean ports for loading.
6. Door-to-Door Drayage
Door-to-door drayage is usually only available when the end customer is near a shipping port or storage facility. These services collect the shipper’s inventory and transport it directly to the customer’s doorstep.
How to Choose the Right Classifications for Drayage Services
The right classification depends on the shipment’s type, size, weight, and time sensitivity. Fast and efficient services are critical for perishable items. Transporting raw materials like iron ore or coal may be more flexible, allowing shippers to choose from various options.
Regardless of the types of goods a business trades, working with a reliable shipping company or customs broker can help reduce costs and optimize the supply chain. Shipping companies draw on industry expertise and a vast professional network to offer comprehensive drayage services that align with specific budgets, schedules, and product types.
Work With a World-Class Drayage Service Provider
Drayage is a complex but necessary component of the container shipping industry. At Asiana USA, we coordinate with clients to ensure the process is smooth, efficient, and cost-effective.
We offer transparent guidance on the most suitable drayage approach for each customer. Our logistics professionals use our broad network of transport companies to facilitate flexible scheduling that accommodates your precise needs.
You can rely on us to stay on top of all industry trends and use the latest technology to provide best-in-class intermodal shipping services. We use top-of-the-line tracking systems, giving you and your customers detailed updates on your intermodal units.
Our professional approach ensures your cargo is shipped in a manner that effectively optimizes costs and timeliness for your drayage shipment.
By working closely with our clients, we can plan routes ahead of time and offer the best rates possible to get your goods from ports to warehouses, distributors, rail ramps, and more in all weather conditions.
Our national drayage professionals can help you make the right choices for transporting your goods locally, regionally, or globally. Contact Asiana USA and learn how you can start shipping and building your supply chain. Call us today at (855) 500-1808.
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