What is Drayage Services in Logistics Management?

If your business necessitates the transportation of cargo, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of drayage services. Use our post to learn more about these services and how they might fit into the supply chain for your shipment.

What is Drayage?

Drayage is a specialty service within intermodal shipping for moving freight over short distances by means of ground freight. Drayage is a necessary service needed to move large containers for a truck, ship or rail so although it is a specialized service, it is also quite common. Drayage is a niche service because it isn’t done by all logistics managers and requires a specialty skill set that isn’t held across the industry. According to the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), there are over 60 million drayage movements on the continent each year.

What is Intermodal Shipping?

Before understanding how drayage services work, you must understand the ecosystem it is a part of. Intermodal shipping is the movement of cargo that requires more than one method of shipping. In many cases, that means cargo is moved on both a truck and a ship and/or rail or airplane to get to its destination. Drayage services help the movement of cargo through these various modes, making the process smooth and safer because of the specialty skills needed and advanced equipment used.

What Equipment is Needed for Drayage?

In most intermodal shipments, cargo is packed into special containers so that the goods don’t need to be unpacked and re-packed each time the cargo is moved on and off a truck, rail, plane or ship. There are several drayage container types to choose from based on the needs of your cargo, including:

  • Refrigerated
  • Flat Rack
  • Open Top
  • Dry/standard
  • High cube

Containers also come in different sizes depending on your needs and their availability. Most containers are either 20, 40 or 45-feet in length and about 6-8-feet tall but there are additional sizing options. Your logistics manager will help to choose the best container type for your cargo.

Drayage Classifications

Because drayage services are needed for a variety of cargo types, business sizes and specialties, there is a range of drayage classifications to help define what each shipment needs and how to structure the process. The following are the drayage classifications defined by the IANA:

  • Expedited drayage: Cargo is transported at a much faster speed than a standard shipping. This often results in a significantly higher price point but makes last-minute shipments possible.
  • Door-to-door: This entails the delivery by truck of container to the retail customer’s door.
  • Pier drayage: This includes the movement of cargo from a rail terminal to an ocean shipping dock/pier.
  • Intra-carrier drayage: Logistics managers will take the freight to two different hubs owned by the same carrier.
  • Inter-carrier drayage: Inter-carrier drayage is what most think of as the “standard” classification because it involves the movement of goods between two or more different carriers. For example, inter-carrier drayage might involve transporting cargo from an air terminal to a rail station.
  • Shuttle drayage: This required the movement of an intermodal unit to a temporary stopping point, often used when the origin hub is overcrowded.

Questions About Drayage?

If you still have questions about drayage services or would like to inquire about pricing for an upcoming shipment, contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer any and all questions you may have as well as offer a free quote on your intermodal shipment and drayage services. You can also learn more about our logistics management services!

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