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What is Drayage?

Drayage Service

Drayage is an important service that encompasses transporting goods over a short stretch, between the long intermodal transportation journey. It’s an essential part of the shipping and transportation process. For major industries, such as the container industry and cold logistics, drayage is an important component. Container firms use drayage to transport innumerable loads, such as automobiles, steel, metals, etc. These vessels can weigh over 1,000 tons.

Because it is a short-haul solution, mostly involving a single shift of a trucker, this service usually serves one city area, leading to more efficient and faster shipping of goods. Read on to find out more about drayage.

Important Characteristics of Intermodal Drayage 

Along with the process of transport of goods over short distances, it also has some other meanings in the transport industry. Occasionally, the term can also denote a pickup by an automobile to or from a boarder or inland point, a seaport, or an intermodal terminal.

Drayage can also be used to refer to the name of the fee on an invoice for such services, commonly used in the container shipping industry for worldwide commerce.

There are other circumstances where the term is often used. For instance, during a regular freight move, in which many shipping methods are used for transportation, e.g., truck and rail, drayage arises when the freight is moved from the truck and loaded on the train. Shipping documents are updated at this point, and perhaps, the freight may be reordered for the next part of its voyage.

Types of Drayage

Drayage facilities are grouped depending on their efficiency and size when handling cargo. According to the Intermodal Association of North America has it can be classified into the following groups:

  • Inter-carrier Drayage: This involves the movement of units over short distances between various carriers, e.g., transporting goods from a trucking point to a railway yard. 
  • Intra-carrier Drayage: This comprises taking freight to two separate locations possessed by the same transporter.
  • Door-to-door Drayage: This is where the goods are transported from the sender straight to the customer through roads.
  • Expedited Drayage: This is the transport of time-sensitive goods or cargo over-the-road transport.

 This happens for both loaded and empty units.

  • Pier Drayage: This is when a truck uses roads and highways to transport intermodal elements to a pier or dock from a previous rail yard.

The History of Drayage Service

Drayage has a history that goes back very far in the past. Although current service methods utilize container equipment and modern shipping, it actually precedes the present industrial era and started with older types of containers.

This practice was used through the 1800s, until the early 1900s, when trucks became the standard transport equipment.

Why Drayage Service is Required

In shopping malls, for example, getting cargo in and out of stores, particularly those without external loading bays, takes organizing with a drayage service to get a consignment from the transport truck to the shopfront. Usually, a shared delivery spot is accessible at retail malls. Nevertheless, this short distance is key for the store to cover on a consistent basis.

The eventful world of trade shows also relies on the service to transfer exhibitors in and out of the location in a well-organized manner. Once resources for each exhibitor reach the site, it is a frenzy of movement to have everything ready.

 Although it covers a comparatively short distance, the whole lot is typically is happening at a stable pace. Teams are close by to get seasonal products stores or transfer exhibit equipment and booths to the correct spot.

. When the show is over, the service comes back to move everything back out to the loading dock, ready for transporter pickup.

From time to time, the question of whether this service is required may come up.

Ocean Shipping

Hiring Drayage Service

When you need to contract a drayage facility, it is helpful to inquire about a few things when obtaining quotes:

  • Is tracking available for shipments?
  • How does the company calculate rates?
  • Will storing empty crates or cartons incur an extra fee?
  • What is the timeline of delivery start/finish?
  • When is delivery to space scheduled?

Being aware in advance if other fees will be charged or about the service level can assist in planning for the service in advance. This transport service, in some cases, offers a comprehensive package covering multiple components for a certain fee.

In a trade show or retail setting, the motorist from the dray service may be more flexible in their timetable versus the driver operating rail or ocean transfer.

Drayage and Cold Chain

units, otherwise known as reefer containers, are intended to preserve a low temperature for fresh goods during the process of shipping. Reefer containers can be used to transport items that must remain at a constant temperature. Items like medicines, food, and cut flowers, and more are frequently transported in refrigerated containers.

You must never break the cold chain, especially for services like transportation of ice cream and fresh produce. The process of transport, storing, and distributing frozen and cold goods is referred to as cold chain logistics.

Chilled containers are intended to work self-sufficiently. This implies that they’ll stay cold irrespective of whether they are being transported by rail, over the sea, or on a truck. Reefer containers are insulated by almost 1,000 pounds of foam and have their own cooling devices.

Reefer containers operate like the freezer in your kitchen, but on a bigger scale. There are three key components that make the reefer trailer work and stay cool: the condenser, compressor, and evaporator. Cold chain logistics depends on this service to transport goods from one mode of transport to the next.

Ports Drayage Truck Registry (PDTR)

Some ports, particularly in the US, keep a Ports Drayage Truck Registry (PDTR). This PDTR keeps a list of the listed trucks that can exit or enter the port for the official pickup or drop-off of containers.

The PDR’s main function, however, is to monitor and take steps for the regulation of emissions from the diesel trailers and other diesel-powered vehicles that go in and out the port grounds.

The PDTR encourages clean-air and eco-friendly technologies that can substitute diesel power that is understood as the main culprit in the emission of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides and the discharge of particulate matter into the air.

Challenges Faced by the World’s Drayage Industry

The drayage service industry is a multi-billion-dollar business. However, it faces numerous challenges such as overcrowding in marine terminals that bring about long turn-around times for  automobiles in this service, shortage of equipment, and from time to time, a scarcity of empty containers.

Nevertheless, since it is short-haul, its operators are able to create solutions to quickly deal with these problems.

Drayage companies are able to manage their services better with Transportation Management Systems (TMS) . With this system, they can automate their back-office responsibilities, improve information transfer and customer interaction.


What is drayage and why do we need it? What are the different types of drayage? You can now confidently answer these questions. These services are important because they move freight from the berth to the planned space efficiently.

Now that you have the knowledge of what this service, you may have discovered how it could enhance some of your business processes. Reach out to Onsite Global Logistics today, and let us take care of your short-haul needs!

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