How Drayage Affects Supply Chains | Red Arrow Logistics
How Drayage Affects Supply Chains | Red Arrow Logistics

Freight shipping is quite complex. In order to get a shipment from origin to destination quickly, there are often several phases involved in the process. Drayage is a mode of transportation in freight shipping that provides the link in multimodal transportation. It is an essential step in the supply chain because it is the only way freight can make it from port to the next mode of transportation.

What is Drayage?

Drayage is a specialty logistics service that carries freight over a short distance, sometimes called the ‘first mile’ of transportation. It is an important logistics industry service and often plays a role specifically in the cold chain part of the industry. Drayage links different modes of intermodal transportation, like rail and ocean. For example, the short-distance hauls between loading a dock to the warehouse is drayage. These short trips are often done by truck, and one driver might complete multiple trips in a shift, going back and forth between two locations.

The following transportation characteristics define drayage:

  • – The trip can be made in one shift.
  • – The departure and arrival points are within the same local area.
  • – Drayage only uses one mode of transportation.

Drayage companies move containers in and out of warehouses, rail terminals, and ocean ports. Large steel shipping containers are taken off rail cars or ship decks and loaded onto truck trailers. The container is then transported to get ready for the next step of the shipping process.  Drayage is only one piece of the larger shipping process.

Drayage Classifications

There are several types of drayage.

– Door to Door: This transports the product from one location directly to the destination with no stops in between.

– Expedited. When goods are needed urgently, they can be expedited.

– Inter-carrier. The transportation of cargo between carriers, such as when a product is moved from a trucking terminal to a railway station.

– Intra-carrier. This is transportation between different locations but owned by the same company.

– Pier. This is the movement of products from one location such as a warehouse, to a pier where a ship is waiting to receive the shipment.

– Shuttle. Shuttle is when goods are transported for temporary storage.

The classification of drayage service that is selected depends on your shipping needs. Drayage is important because it reduces the chances of delay for long hauls.


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Drayage Costs

Drayage comes at a cost of course, and similar to other modes of transportation, have increased steadily over the last few years.  The cost of drayage is based on several factors: a base fee, the distance of the shipment, weight, package and handling, and accessorial fees.

Number of shipments. Consolidating freight can help to save money. Rates are based on the CWT (hundredweight) of the shipment. Combining several items will lower the overall CWT. Some carriers do have a minimum, for example, 200-pound or 2 CWT.

Like Shipments. While consolidation can help to reduce fees sometimes, other times it is more cost-effective to ship items separately. A mixed load of crated freight as well as items that require special handling might be cheaper to ship separately. Each shipment should be evaluated to see what is the best way to ship it.

Packaging.  Floor-loaded crates are usually the most cost-effective, while pallets can be more expensive. Fragile items or freight with accessorial needs cost the most to ship.

Flexibility. The more flexibility you can provide a carrier, the better rate you can secure. Flexible pick-up and drop-off dates can give the carrier to ability to bundle routes. In addition, any way you can reduce driver wait times or additional fees will also be attractive to a carrier.

Documentation.  It is important to take pictures and document your shipments so if there is ever a question that arises, you have all the information to dispute charges that are incorrect.

Your Trusted Partner

Red Arrow Logistics can help you cut drayage costs by assisting with packaging, documentation, shipment numbers, and flexibility. If you want to reduce drayage costs as well as get the most of out your shipping processes, Red Arrow can save you time and money.

Red Arrow offers the scale and scope of services including air, ocean, and ground transportation to meet the budget and schedule requirements of the largest and smallest companies alike. If we can be of assistance, please email us at or give us a call at 425-747-7914.