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Dray is referred to as a truck or wagon without sides for the delivery of barrels or other heavy loads. This means that the goods to be transported are carried by a cart pulled by a "Dray" horse. Drayage refers to the separate cost structure in the United States for the carriage of goods over short distances.

What is drayage?

Drayage is defined as the transportation of goods over a short distance in the shipping and logistics industry. It is often part of a longer overall movement, eg. From a ship to a warehouse.

For wholesalers and manufacturers, this can be defined as the cost required to move your trade booth essentials from the delivery vehicle to the booth area. It is humorously described as "maximum cost to move your freight for the shortest distance"

What is Drayage

Steps involved in Drayage:

  • Firstly unload the delivery vehicle and complete the inbound receipt documents
  • Secondly transfer of freight from the acceptance dock to the merchant trade booth
  • Short term storage of empty boxes and needless items near the tradeshow
  • Moving the unassembled freight from the booth to the receiving dock as soon as the show is completed
  • And finally, reloading of carrier vehicles with the boxes and all additional products and completing outbound works.

Container drayage

Container loading begins with the receipt of cargo from a seaport, intermodal point or warehouse. The freight is separated, loaded and transported to the next destination. Trucks are typically used for short distances to and from large shipping centers, and competent service companies use well-placed terminals near pick-up or delivery points to enable fast safe and efficient drying. Service providers can also transport cargo between short-term storage areas because the available space at the hub varies. A good rule of thumb is that it can be done in a single shift– rather than trucking items across the country. The arrival and departure points are usually in the same urban area.

What are drayage services?

In the distribution industry, drayage services are used to transport goods over short distances, usually in a single working shift. There are a variety of situations where it is needed instead of long-distance freight and shipping.

Example of drayage at work

If you had a shipment that required more than one means of transport  for example train and a truck. The drayage portion of the shipment would begin when the shipment was unloaded from the truck until the time it was loaded onto the train. This may include repacking the freight container or updating the shipping documents. The services fees should be included in your distribution offer as a reference.


Common Uses for Drayage Services


  • Shopping mall or store


One of the easiest ways to think about the work of drayage services is to think about shipment going to a mall or shop. If the mall or store is located in an area where a carrier cannot logically reach, the shipment may be taken to a common loading and distributed accordingly. This is often referred to as a "drayage area" and works much like a post office in an office building.


  • Tradeshow


Another example of drayage services is in the trade fair industry. This is where suppliers have to relocate booths and displays from the loading dock to the showroom. Instead of requiring providers to do it individually. This services take on the task of streamlining the process across the board. It would involve storage of the shipping material during the show. The trade show can do these services directly for a high premium, with prices usually based on weight for display.

What is Intermodal Shipping?

Intermodal shipping is a means of transport for cargo or freight that includes multiple shipping methods. Intermodal shipments can travel by a combination of truck, boat, train or plane. In most cases, intermodal use special containers to allow goods to be transported between mode of transport without being unpacked.

Drayage services connect these freight containers from one intermodal point to another. For example, this may include transporting a container from a receiving dock at a seaport to a truck terminal for transport to the final destination.

Drayage Classifications

Here are a number of classifications for drayage service. The following classifications are from the IANA:

  • Expedited loading: freight containers are transported quickly. This is best for time-sensitive shipments.
  • Inter-carrier drayage: This is what comes to mind first when most people think of the word. It concerns the transport of goods between different transport companies. For example, transportation between carriers could include transporting goods from a truck terminal to a railway station.
  • Intra-carrier drayage: In intra-carrier drayage, goods are transported to two different hubs belonging to the same carrier. Freight could be transported from an intermodal hub to a rail hub.
  • Pier drayage: Do you need freight to get from a rail terminal to a ship or pier? You may need Pier Drayage. This method uses highways to bring cargo to the pier.
  • Shuttle drayage:  moves an intermodal unit to a temporary breakpoint. This method is used when the hub of origin may be overcrowded.
  • Door-to-door: Delivery of the container to private customers by truck
Choosing shipment classification

The classification of the service you choose depends on your shipping requirements. Shippers should determine what type of loading service is best for the next stage of the journey. In addition, it may be necessary for a freight container to be transported through the drayage service. This could happen several times during shipment. If the freight is carried through intermodal delay for example. As a result this would involve more than one mode of transportation before reaching a final delivery point. Shipping with intermodal drayage accounts for a large portion of the sector.

Each service category includes a variety of things for the shipment. The assigned driver can bring the cargo a few hundred feet to a waiting truck. Or take the cargo a few miles away to a warehouse near the port.

How to Contract Drayage Service

If there is a need to order a drayage service, some things can be helpful to inquire about offers.

  • How does the company calculate the tariffs?
  • Is shipment tracking available for shipments?
  • Are empty boxes or cartons stored for an extra charge?
  • When is the delivery to space schedule?
  • What is the timetable for the start/end of the delivery?

In conclusion, knowing the service level in advance can help. Therefore if other fees will be charged can help to plan the service in advance. In some cases, the Drayage service offers an inclusive package that covers several aspects at a price. Whether it's freight from truck to rail or from ship to warehouse or any other combination. This link between the entire supply chain and the transport system is called drayage service. Imagine as the sprinter in the Marathon of Shipping.