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Drayage: Why It is important?

Drayage is a specialty logistics service used to move freight over short distances. While it is an essential part of modern-day intermodal shipping, dray has actually been around for centuries.

In fact, its name has originated from a horse-drawn vehicle known as a dray cart. In olden times, people used dray carts for hauling very heavy loads. People used workhorses like Clydesdales and Percherons for pulling these carts. Because the freight they carried was so heavy, the horses could travel only short distances. Dray horses and carts were common sights near ocean ports, canal terminals, and railroad terminals until the early 20th Century when they were replaced by trucks.

In today’s world of ever-increasing international trade, drayage plays a vital role in the container shipping industry. According to the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), there are more than 60 million movements every year in North America alone.


Drayage companies move containers in and out of warehouses, rail terminals, ocean ports, and harbors. This often involves taking huge steel shipping containers off rail cars and ship decks and then loading them onto truck trailers. From there, the container is hauled to a warehouse or storage facility to await the next step in the intermodal shipping process.

Unlike regional or national shipping, in services, the containers carried almost always stay in the same metropolitan area or close region. transport can often be completed in one driver shift.

Dray-age comes into play in a wide range of other areas, too. In fact, plays so many roles, there are six different classifications:


This is what usually comes to mind when people think of drayage. It’s how you move goods between different carriers. For instance, moving cargo containers from a ship to a trucking terminal, or from a trucking terminal to a rail station.


This is taking freight to two different hubs owned by the same carrier. Goods can be transported from an intermodal station to a train station.


If you needed to move the cargo rail terminal to an ocean shipping dock, you’d use pier drayage.


Shuttle drayage involves moving freight to a temporary stopping point to ease overcrowding when a hub gets too busy.


Delivery by truck or container to a retail customer


When shipments are time-sensitive, it is necessary to transport Freight containers as quickly as possible.

Drayage has come a long way since the days of sturdy carts and massive horses. As eCommerce and international shipping continue to grow, will continue to be an important player, a short-haul solution that’s in it for the long haul.

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