Smart Warehousing Feb 18, 2023 10:16:00 AM 7 min read

Drayage 101: What Is Drayage?

If you’ve heard the word “drayage” before, that’s because it’s an integral piece of the logistics puzzle that many businesses will implement into their workflow. According to the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), North America sees over 60 million drayage movements annually. Pretty mindblowing, right? 

Having a solid understanding of the drayage process is extremely valuable in deciding how to use the service in a way that’s effective for your business’s needs. After all, it’s a crucial step in moving freight. Here’s everything you need to know about drayage to strengthen your logistics strategy moving forward. 


What is Drayage?

Drayage refers to a specialty logistics service that’s utilized to carry freight across short distances. Services span the gamut, including transloading goods from rail cars to truck beds, trucking during transshipments, and moving goods to their final delivery point from their destination port. 

Those seeking drayage services could opt to travel two routes: leverage a third-party logistics (3PL) provider or rely on freight forwarders. Utilizing a 3PL that specializes in drayage can be particularly effective as these providers tend to set up shop near major transportation hubs – reducing turnaround time and driving a stronger customer experience. Partnering with a 3PL that offers cutting-edge technology is also an effective way to improve sustainability efforts and strengthen transparency across your supply chain. 


Why is Drayage Beneficial?

When it comes to the world of maritime logistics, drayage is a necessary and quintessential piece of the puzzle. Partnering with a reliable 3PL provider for drayage services can yield a whirlwind of benefits for your business, including:

Reduced Congestion at Ports

Shipping ports can be highly intricate and heavily trafficked. After all, freight forwarders, shippers, transporters, port workers, and a slew of other parties operate out of ports. By entrusting your drayage needs to a reliable 3PL provider, you can circumvent the hassle and subsequent revenue loss that comes with delays and congestion at ports. What’s more, it provides an opportunity to carry out operations more efficiently. Maintaining a physical presence at ports can also prove to be costly, and utilizing a 3PL for drayage can greatly reduce these costs. 

Valuable Expertise When You Need It

In lieu of hiring in-house professionals with years of expertise in drayage, you can tap into the vast knowledge and years of experience of a 3PL logistics provider. They have the processes and specialized labor in place to transport goods safely over short distances. They are also well-versed in the safety regulations and procedures surrounding moving goods from one point to another. This makes them better equipped to handle the job safely and effectively. 

Increased Visibility & Control

Innovative, technology-driven 3PL providers will employ things like AI, automation, and analytics to enhance trackability for businesses. These insights can vastly improve visibility and optimize processes across the supply chain. For instance, they can utilize route optimization to circumvent traffic and accelerate shipping times if necessary. 

Reduction of Supply Chain Lead Time

When drayage is handled by a reputable 3PL provider, it’ll reduce the time needed to execute that piece of the logistics process. This can help to effectively decrease overall lead time and improve the customer experience

Focus on High-Level Operations

When drayage needs are outsourced to a 3PL, it allows your business to refocus its efforts on more high-level initiatives. Whether that be penetrating new markets, increasing customer retention, or expanding your product line. 


What Does Drayage Encompass?

Drayage encompasses two parts – transporting goods across short distances and the accompanying costs of carrying out the service. Drayage may consist of transporting a shipping container from the warehouse to a port, moving goods from one warehousing to another located in the same city, or transporting a container from a port to a warehouse. 


Different Types of Drayage

There are several different types of drayage. These classifications are contingent on a number of factors, such as the point of origin, breaks taken during transportation, the end destination, and more. 

Inter-Carrier Drayage

This involves the transportation of goods from one carrier to another. For instance, goods moved from a shipping port to a railway terminal are classified as inter-carrier drayage. 

Intra-Carrier Drayage

This refers to the transport of goods within the intermodal hub of a particular freight carrier. Let’s say, for example, goods are moved from a rail hub to an intermodal hub both operated by the same carrier – this would qualify as intra-carrier drayage. 

Expedited Drayage

As the name suggests, this includes the transportation of goods that require a short, speedy delivery window. 

Pier Drayage

This involves the transport of goods from a port to an intermediate transportation hub, such as a bus or rail hub. 

Door-to-Door Drayage

Door-to-door drayage comprises transporting goods directly from a storage facility to the residence of the end consumer. 

Shuttle Drayage

This type of drayage involves the transport of goods from an overloaded storage hub to a facility where they will be housed temporarily before they are moved. 


Drayage & Its Role in the Supply Chain

Drayage is an integral part of the supply chain that glues together all the various processes and stakeholders. Without a strong drayage strategy, businesses would be responsible for handling intermodal or inland transportation on their own. This task is often burdensome for businesses, taking away valuable time that can be otherwise spent on optimizing core operations and initiatives. 

What's more, without the help of a professional drayage service provider, your business runs the risk of disrupting efficiency and slowing down supply chain operations. Partnering with a 3PL that provides cutting-edge technology and drayage services can help prevent hindrances by assuming the role of a reliable and efficient intermediary within your supply chain. 

Are you ready to experience the difference Smart Warehousing can make for your business? Reach out to learn more.