More Glossary Terms


What is Drayage?

Drayage – sometimes referred to simply as “dray” – is a specialty logistics service that carries freight over a short distance. It is an essential part of intermodal shipping and is usually part of a longer logistics process.

How does freight get from a rail car to a ship? Moreover, how does a container get from rail to a truck? It all happens via drayage. Whether the freight goes from truck to rail or ship to warehouse or any other combination, the link in overall supply chain is drayage service.
Drayage companies take containers in and out of warehouses, rail terminals, ocean ports, and harbors. This often involves taking very large steel shipping containers off rail cars and shipping decks and loading them onto truck trailers. From there, the container is hailed to a warehouse or storage facility to prepare for the next step in the intermodal shipping process.
The term also has a number of additional meanings throughout the industry.
Drayage also means:
  1. Name of the fee charged for the services
  2. Vehicle used to collect shipment at a border, ocean port or intermodal point.

The service isn’t a one-size-fits-all method. Here are six types of drayage classifications from Intermodal Association of North America (IANA):

  • Cross-Town or Inter-Carrier — A movement of an intermodal unit “across town” from one railroad to another for continuance of the move.
  • Door-to-door — Retail drayage involving over-the-road movement of a unit to a customer location.
  • Expedited — A movement of an intermodal unit over-the-road to get it there on time. This exceptional drayage usually involves time-sensitive freight.
  • IMX or Intra-Carrier — A movement of an intermodal unit from a carrier’s rail hub to the same carrier’s intermodal hub. IMX drayage extends the reach of an intermodal hub.
  • Pier — An over-the-road movement of an intermodal unit from a carrier’s rail hub to a port’s dock or pier.
  • Shuttle — A movement of an intermodal unit either loaded or empty from a hub to another parking lot because the railroad has run out of room at the hub.

The classification of service you select depends on your shipping needs. Shippers should determine which type of drayage service best serves the cargo for delivery to complete the next leg of the journey as it may be necessary for a freight container to transfer via drayage service multiple times during shipment.

Reducing Costs In Freight

Why Drayage Service is Needed
Drayage services can save on costs. Ports often have limited capacity and container rentals and chassis can be expensive. Why have containers sit at the docks for long periods of time when they can be efficiently moved quickly to a local distribution center/warehouse to keep business running smoothly? Third-party logistics providers often offer affordable drayage services to help move freight to off-site warehouses so that freight doesn’t block traffic at a busy port.
How MercuryGate Supports Drayage
MercuryGate’s industry-leading logistics planning is easily applied, from straightforward static moves to the most varied and dynamic routes. Simple design allows users to run the optimizer to accommodate loads with last-minute changes, without ever needing to adjust any of the parameters. Also, the built-in scripting feature allows companies to customize the tool to overcome specific constraints.

The MercuryGate TMS platform enables you to schedule complex intermodal, global moves that may include ocean, rail, less-than-truckload (LTL), truckload, and cartage all at once. Consolidate shipments across locations, and even measure the amount of C02 emission you reduced as a result. Use actual contract rates, even from carrier application programming interfaces (APIs). The opportunities are as extensive and varied as your business model.

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