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The term drayage is used within the logistics industry to describe the transportation of goods over short distances, often within the same metropolitan area. You may hear professionals within the shipping industry refer to intermodal shipping and intermodal drayage, which describes the use of two or more forms of transportation to take goods from one location to another.

What is Drayage Transportation

The history of drayage transport goes back to the horse-drawn cart, which was known as a dray. Because these horses, called dray horses, have physical limitations, they could only transport goods over relatively short distances, and that is the origin of the word drayage.

In modern times, the trucking industry has replaced the dray horses. Other drayage carriers used to support logistics operations include enormous ships, trucks, airplanes, and trains. They do so by moving cargo or containers from loading docks at ports or warehouses to other locations in the logistical supply chain.

The drayage process is often part of a longer journey, and therefore is crucial for transporting goods. Without drayage services, the logistical and shipping industry supply chain could not function.

Types of Drayage Services

The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) divides the various types of drayage transport services into categories that help understand each group’s relevance in your business supply chain.

Intra-Carrier Drayage

This form of efficient transport is different from inter-carrier drayage because only one company carries out the movement of goods from an intermodal terminal, such as from marine ports to a rail hub or from a port to warehouse.

Pier Drayage

Goods that travel by train could become stuck in a rail yard if it were not for pier drayage. Shippers often provide dray services using trucks to collect the containers filled with cargo from a port and take them to a dock or ocean port for the next part of their journey.

Expedited Drayage

Shippers also contract a drayage service for expedited shipping needs.

Products with a time-sensitive lifespan, such as ice cream, perishable foods or medicine, need to reach their final destination quickly. Expedited drayage uses the road network to move containers from ports to their ultimate destinations within a short time frame.

Door-to-Door Drayage

Retail customers may not have the resources to pick up their goods from a terminal, and door-to-door drayage allows them to take delivery of their merchandise at their store or warehouse.

Door-to-door drayage uses a delivery truck or a rail terminal to carry goods directly to a customer.

Shuttle Drayage Services

The logistics and drayage industry works within tight timeframes. Even a small delay in one stage of the supply chain can lead to an intermodal hub exceeding its storage limit. In this scenario, shuttle drayage takes containers to an overflow lot, where transporters can store both full and empty storage units.

This ability relieves pressure on already full storage areas and allows the transporter to keep goods moving through their hub.

Shuttle drayage services often use standardized equipment and a centralized loading dock or shipping dock for the movement of goods. A common delivery hub enables the drayage services to more efficiently move cargo.

It may be the case that your goods utilize several different types of drayage services during their journey from origin to the final destination.

drayage transportation in supply chain

Final Thoughts

A freight forwarding company can organize drayage transportation services on your behalf. Although it may initially seem cheaper to arrange transport yourself, there are different elements to consider. Any delays could be costly, and it can be stressful to work with several transportation services at the same time.

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