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July 20, 2023

What is Drayage?

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Drayage refers to the transport of goods commonly over a short distance, often within a 250-mile radius, usually from a port or rail yard to a nearby distribution center, warehouse, or manufacturing /producing location.

It is an essential part of the supply chain and logistics industry, and it plays a critical role in facilitating the movement of goods across the world.

The Intermodal Association of America (IANA) reported that there are more than 60 million dray movements annually. While drayage is a small part of the entire supply chain, its value is high.

“Of the more than $1.5 trillion in U.S.-international trade transported by vessel and handled by the Nation’s ports in 2020, containerized cargo comprises about $1 trillion (68.3 percent) and is responsible for most consumer goods imported into the United States,” notes the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. These goods are transported in 20′ and 40′ containers, often referred to as twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), and transported on roadways using chassis and or loaded onto a rail. The other $0.5 trillion is comprised of break bulk containers which get loaded into tanker trailers, flatbeds, pipelines, or other unique vehicles.

There are six different types of drayage:

  • Door to Door Drayage. This involves the movement of goods from a port, railhead, warehouse, or other destination right to a receiver’s door.
  • Expedited Drayage. When cargo is needed urgently, rapid transportation through over-the-road methods are utilized.
  • Inter-Carrier Drayage. Two or more different carriers handling goods, or one carrier using two different transportation methods, is called inter-carrier drayage.
  • Intra-Carrier Drayage. This mode involves one container being moved a short distance between different freight terminals owned by a single company.
  • Pier Drayage. If a container is moved from a rail or storage yard to a pier, this is called pier drayage. The cargo inside is still loaded, and the ship waiting at the pier will take the container on the next leg of its trip.
  • Shuttle Drayage. This type of move occurs when a hub of origin is full, so the cargo is shuttled elsewhere for storage until the next mode of transportation is available.

Container drayage is commonly provided by asset-based drayage companies or third-party logistics providers (3PLs) that specialize in local transportation. A great and trusted drayage service provider will also place high value on managing containers’ free days at the port to prevent their customers from paying excessive demurrage and per diem charges.

These companies have expertise in navigating local traffic and regulations – which vary greatly from port to port – efficient technology, reliable and modern equipment, professionally trained and reliable drivers, and providing efficient and cost-effective drayage services to their customers.

Drayage is a critical part of the supply chain and logistics industry, and it is essential for ensuring the efficient and timely delivery of goods. According to Port Technology International, the top five ports in the U.S. for the first ten months of 2022 (as well as the top four in the first months of 2023 according to Container XChange) were:

  • The Port of Los Angeles – 8,542,944 TEU
  • The Port of New York and New Jersey – 8,157,584 TEU
  • The Port of Long Beach – 8,000,811 TEU
  • The Port of Savannah – 4,986,489 TEU
  • The Port of Houston – 3,333,924 TEU

At Hermann Services, we offer drayage services with our lightweight tractors and chassis. All equipped with tracking for high visibility, our pool of available chassis can be utilized for moving your freight – with fully-dedicated drayage solutions available as well! Our goal is to never incur demurrage or per diem charges, and we’re happy to provide consistent service and pricing for all your port move needs. Contact us to learn more!

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