Savannah Drayage: What it means
Most of us are familiar with the idea of shipping freight around the world on a container ship and across the country by train or truck, but it’s easy to forget one integral step in the process: drayage. In the world of international shipping, the term refers to the transport of freight containers over short distances, usually from the dock where cargo is unloaded to a warehouse some distance inland.
The term has its origins in an era when horses were used to transport cargo from ships to warehouses. The type of cart used was called a dray, and the horses were referred to as dray horses. Even though this method has not been used in more than 100 years, the term is used for the shipment of freight via truck over short distances. For those outside the shipping industry, a port to a warehouse. Drayage is often considered an afterthought. The truth is it’s critically important in the movement of cargo from ports to their destinations.
Pressures on Efficient Drayage
Drayage of goods to storage can usually be accomplished in a single shift or business day. Depending on how far the drayage destination is from the port and the amount of freight needing transport, one driver can make several trips back and forth between ship and distribution center inland. Shipping containers can be dropped for unloading at a destination, and a drayage truck can be loaded with an empty one to take back for further use. In addition to the use of trucks, inter-modal drayage involving rail transport is increasing in popularity due to its ability to transfer large numbers of containers for a lower price and rail companies are investing to upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate this surge.A major bottleneck of inefficiency in the shipping process include long wait times at ports plus working hour restrictions for drivers. Additionally, the ever-increasing size of container ships requires more truck space, increased wait times and congestion. It’s a challenge faced by many areas and the Port of Savannah is no exception. With our rapid growth in total freight passing through and new mandates for hours of service restrictions, it’s always an important element of concern for our customers.
Drayage Terms to Know
- Inter-carrier drayage: The transfer of freight units between modes, including ship-to-train or truck-to-ship, especially when there are different companies involved.
- Expedited drayage: Quick transport, usually be over-the-road trucking, of material that is perishable or otherwise time-sensitive.
- Intra-carrier drayage: For logistics companies that own several modes of the transportation network, this term refers to transfer between the company’s different modes.
- Door-to-door drayage: This occurs when a logistics company is able to deliver small amounts of freight directly to retailers rather than an intermediate stop at a distribution center or warehouse.
- Shuttle drayage: When freight units or empty containers are sidelined temporarily during backups on one end of the drayage process. Usually the freight is parked for a brief stay in lots or yards associated with the port.
- Pier drayage: This simply refers to the movement of freight from a rail or trucking hub directly to a pier for export or further freight forwarding.