Drayage is a critical component of many logistics moves and the overall global supply chain. The drayage services market is projected to grow by $2.90 billion between 2021-2025. Drayage refers to the moving of containers, typically from a port/terminal to a nearby warehouse or staging area, where they go on a truck or intermodal flatcar and move further inland to the destination.
Drayage is a key aspect when transferring goods and helps fill in the gaps of intermodal shipping. Without drayage, efficient freight movement would be very difficult.
As a short-haul solution, drayage helps facilitate the interim connections between origin and destination. It helps expedite consistent freight movement across a shipper's supply chain and provides a connection between terminals/ports and intermodal/trucking carriers.
To look at a real-world example, shopping malls rely heavily on drayage to get products into their stores. Since it is common for shopping malls to have only a few loading docks for deliveries, each store coordinates pickups. Drayage (specifically shuttle drayage in this case) optimizes this process by compartmentalizing shipments to and from highly congested areas so that retailers can retrieve their products timely and efficiently.
Considering that freight shipments have different requirements according to product type, transportation route, timeline, and other factors, drayage is not a one size fits all service. In fact, there are various forms of drayage that are well-suited for distinct purposes:
This is the best form of drayage for time-sensitivity and typically involves road freight as a means of transportation.
Inter-carrier drayage involves cargo transfer from one mode of transportation to another, such as from rail to truck.
This form is usually preferred by transportation companies for moving commodities between two hubs owned by the same carrier. For example, cargo may be transported from an intermodal hub to a rail yard.
Pier drayage relies on road transportation--such as highways--to move goods from a rail terminal to a shipping dock or pier.
This is used when hubs become overcrowded by both loaded and empty cargo. Some units are temporarily transferred to a storage area.
Door-to-door drayage delivers containers from the sender directly to the customer, often by trucks and roadways.