Drayage moves may be small, but their importance is large

A truck with a shipping container on it sits in front of dozens of stacked shipping containers.Drayage is the process of transporting freight over short distances. In shipping and logistics, drayage typically refers to the movement of shipping containers on trucks.

Drayage in intermodal transportation

Intermodal drayage begins with a container arriving at a port, a warehouse or distribution center, or an intermodal rail terminal (also known as a rail ramp.) The container changes transportation mode, going from ship to rail, or from rail to truck, and is then sent on to the shipper or its final destination.

So, drayage can refer to a container being taken by truck to a port, or taken from a port to a rail ramp, or taken by truck from the rail ramp to its end destination. Drayage specifically refers to these short distance movements as part of a company’s supply chain. Trucks are the most common vehicle used for drayage.

A (semi) real-world example of drayage

A medium-sized company in Ohio designs and sells stuffed animals to retailers across North America. The research, development and design happens in the United States and a manufacturing partner in China manufactures the stuffed animals. An order is placed for 1,015 cartons of product, enough to fill a 40’ container.

The container is shipped via ocean freight and arrives at the largest west coast port in Long Beach, CA. The container is taken off the ship and placed on a truck to be taken 5 miles away to the rail ramp in Long Beach. This move is considered drayage. The container moves on rail to Chicago for a crosstown move, where it is taken off the west coast rail line and trucked to an east coast rail ramp, where it is placed back on the rail. This is also drayage. When the container arrives at the rail ramp in Cleveland, OH, it is taken off of the train and placed on a truck for final delivery to the company’s warehouse 15 miles south of Cleveland. This third move is also drayage.

Again, drayage is transporting freight in shipping containers on trucks over short distances.

The history of drayage

Drayage dates back hundreds of years. In fact, the word “drayage” refers to a horse-drawn wagon or cart originally known as a “dray.” Drays had low sides or no sides, a flat level floor, small wheels and were low to the ground to better carry very heavy equipment and machinery.

The term “drayage” came about because of the limitations of the horses and other animals used to pull these heavy drays. Delivery only happened over short distances, usually near ports, and railroad and canal terminals.

This system was prevalent from the 1800s through the early 1900s when “motor trucks” became the standard freight delivery vehicle.

Getting Started

If you need drayage services, or any other intermodal shipping services, call us at 800-599-2902 option 1, or send an email to sales@PartnerShip.com. The shipping experts at PartnerShip are ready to help you with any intermodal transportation needs you have!

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