Everything You Need to Know About Drayage Services

Stack of drayage containers on dock What are drayage (dray) services? The term drayage refers to the shipping of goods over a short distance, such as from the port to rail or the port to a truck. Typically, this short distance can be covered in an hour or two, and is kept within the same geographical area. Drayage services are often “round-trip.” For instance, a container comes off a ship at a port, and it’s put on a truck and taken to an inland warehouse nearby where it’s emptied. Then the empty container is brought back to the port, and put on the same or another ship to be used again.

Drayage is a Vital Part of the Transportation and Logistics Industry

Drayage is an important part of the transportation and logistics industry, with demand skyrocketing post-pandemic. Unfortunately, congestion at ports (and rail yards) as well as too few truck drivers to meet demand have caused some headaches for those involved with dray services.

Ports don’t want bottlenecks or congestion. When dray services work well, those two things can be avoided. Ideally, it should be a quick turnaround time– containers get unloaded off ships quickly, taken to their destination quickly and returned to the port/ship quickly… Time is money! A dray broker can help customers ensure that their freight is moved in a time-efficient, cost-effective way.

Dray brokers work on volume. They want to make as many short moves in a short time as they can. They work with carriers who have the equipment and staff to handle short hauls. Problems can arise when ships are delayed and there’s a backlog in the supply chain. That said, when things are going well, a drayage load can move quickly. To coordinate this service, one needs to know the weight of their load and their container size, as well as some specifics, like, “Are the contents refrigerated? Are they hazardous?”

Drayage services are in-demand and growing– the drayage service market is likely to increase by three billion dollars between now and 2025!