The Drayage Directory
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Have you ever heard of the term drayage and wondered what it meant? Professionals in the industry refer to drayage as delivery or ground shipping services which some can misconstrue. To narrow it down, Drayage is the crucial link in the last leg of transporting goods domestically. 

Drayage derives from the word ‘dray,’ the name of a horse-driven cart used to transport goods over short distances before the days of cars and trucks. Nowadays, drayage is as essential as it was in the history books, with a few minor changes and advances due to technological growth. Drayage has been filling and strengthening the missing links of supply chains globally for thousands of years.

To understand the importance of drayage, let’s begin by defining it and reviewing its various types and their significance to supply chains in this drayage directory guide.

What Is Drayage?

Drayage is the link of transportation that forms a vital part of the international and domestic transportation industry. In basic terms, drayage is the transportation of goods over short distances, usually between ocean ports and final delivery points.

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Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) highlighted that "about 95 percent of the world’s manufactured goods at some time travel in a container before they arrive in the hands of the customer”

What Are The Types Of Drayage?

Drayage, also called haulage or cartage, comes in six different forms. Let’s delve into the types of drayage available according to the IANA:

Inter-carrier drayage: This is the most common form of drayage. It refers to a service where multiple carriers transport the shipment of a container. With this service, cargo will be picked up by a truck from the ship's port of arrival and transported to the next carrier before it reaches its final delivery point. 

Intra-carrier Drayage: This service transports cargo between intermodal hubs to rail or terminals owned by the same company. Some prefer this service as it makes the transportation process more streamlined and efficient and narrows down the players involved. 

Door-to-door Drayage: This is where the seller’s goods are transported from their warehouse directly to the customer's door. This drayage is a common way of transporting retail goods.

Expedited Drayage: With time-sensitive deliveries, this service will deliver your goods through ground transportation to ensure accurate same-day delivery times. This service comes in handy when transporting produce or perishable goods. 

Shuttle Drayage: Refers to the temporary storage of loaded trucks until adequate space is available to move shipments. Delays and overcrowded ports are causing increased usage of this service as space is at capacity with intermodal Full Container Loads (FCL) drayage and empty units. 

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Pier Drayage: With this drayage, shipping containers get moved by trucks from the rail port to the shipping dock or pier, where containers are loaded onto ships for transportation. 

Why Is Drayage Important? 

Understanding what drayage companies do might be the best way to highlight its importance. To simplify, they manage, coordinate and facilitate the smooth transportation of loaded and unloaded containers from point to point. 

Drayage forms part of the container shipping industry that has provided many businesses with commercial benefits, efficient costs and increased cargo capability from every corner of the globe. 

However, many considerations need to be taken into account when choosing a drayage service provider. Safety records, insurance limits, history of cargo handling, timely pick-up/delivery, and transparent tracking and tracing are great evaluation tools. The receiver of goods will be taking unnecessary risks with their cargo if their drayage provider is lacking in these areas.

Poor drayage service can subject companies to; increased cargo handling resulting in damages or delayed containers and, unfortunately, increased fees for containers that have to sit at the port until alternate resources become available. 

Pro Tip: Drayage fees are calculated based on the current fluctuations of the market rates taking into account the miles travelled, urgency, equipment, handling and time required by the carrier.  

Drayage Tips 

Understanding the links that get containers from point to point will help ensure your goods make it to their destination with minimal delay and give you more control and flexibility in filling the gaps when things go wrong. 

To conclude this drayage directory, let’s go through a few helpful tips that could help you succeed in drayage:

  • Tip one: Communicate with all parties involved in transporting your goods. Clear communication will generate a clear understanding of the needs, requirements, changes and other vital information that all players should be aware of; these parties include but are not limited to shippers, steamship lines, railroads, container yards and trucking companies.
  • Tip two: Create a clear plan. With the help of a freight forwarder, plans can be more straightforward and simplified to determine the route, modes of transportation, and the costs involved in the overall process. Planning should incorporate various scenarios; for example, the replacement modes of transportation if one mode fails to work out and other actions that should come into play. A flexible plan is crucial in this ever-changing environment that boasts unexpected events. 
  • Tip three: Make sure you have complete visibility over the whereabouts of your container to ensure that things are going according to plan. Delays at ports will cause fees to increase, and drayage services with advanced visibility tools will allow you to track your container movement worldwide. 

Drayage is part of the billion-dollar global shipping puzzle that connects the transportation of sellers' and buyers' goods worldwide. Now that you understand the importance of drayage services, let us assist you in filling and strengthening the gaps in your supply chain. Get in touch with one of our expert specialists to gain the leverage you need to trade successfully.

let us assist you in strengthening the gaps
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About Author
Alexandra Haukaas
CIFFA, FITT

Alex Haukaas is a logistics professional who has been in the freight forwarding, NVOCC, and brokerage industries for over eighteen years. Alex has worked in all transportation modes, including air, ocean, truck, rail, and project cargo, with a strong background in project management and business development. Her successful management style is a hands-on approach in identifying her team's strengths, which results in a positive and cohesive work environment. Alex currently holds the Canadian International Freight Forwarding Association (CIFFA) and Forum For International Trade Training (FITT) designations.

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