What is drayage process?


What is drayage?

Drayage is the process of transporting a shipping container over the road from a port either its a seaport or rail terminal to its destination point (e.g., a warehouse). The drayage process typically covers short distances using drayage trucks and chassis.

The same drayage process carries out in a reverse manner also: putting items from a warehouse into a container and then transporting that container over the road to a port. In both ways, drayage is often performed by 3PL provider companies using their own – or outsourced – equipment.

Key Points to consider when looking for a drayage provider


While the process may seem simple, there are many variables that can make drayage both complex and costly. To ship your cargo efficiently and avoid unnecessary fees, you’ll need to partner with a drayage provider that covers the following areas.

Avoiding demurrage. Once your container arrives at the port, you get a certain number of ‘free days’ by the steamship line to get the container off of the port. If your container has not been moved off the port within that time period you will be charged a ‘demurrage’ fee by the steamship line for each day that the container remains unmoved.

To avoid demurrage fees, your 3PL provider should have experience picking up containers at the selected port. At some ports, for example, the wait times for trucks to even enter the port can be several hours. Your 3PL will need to understand such challenges and have experience navigating them. To understand a prospective 3PL’s success rate at avoiding demurrage, simply ask for the question (e.g., “what percentage of your containers incurred a demurrage fee over the last 6 months?”).

Avoiding detention. Once you move the container off the port, you are again given a time period – this time to unload it at the destination and return it empty. The steamship lines own these containers, and they want them back for the next load. If you don’t return the container within this free time period, you will have to pay a ‘detention’ fee for each additional day.

Many warehousing companies also provide drayage services. When you partner with the same company for all such services, your provider can ensure that the container is received, unloaded at the warehouse, and returned to the port within the specified duration.

Palletizing product. In many cases, your product will be floor loaded into your container overseas. Upon arrival, it is then up to you to palletize this product before it can be stored in a warehouse or delivered to a retailer. Your 3PL can do this for you, while (typically) providing the necessary pallets shrink wrapping, and labor needed to get the job done right.

Cross-docking. Sometimes, however, you may want to skip long-term storage of goods and get your products delivered to the concerning party. With cross docking service, your 3PL can unload your container, palletize your products, and store them temporarily in a warehouse as they await distribution.

Product segregation and transloading. Let’s say that you have 6 containers coming into port, and the contents of each container are heading to different destinations. Your 3PL can receive and palletize your products, segregate them according to a destination within the warehouse, and load them onto separate trucks. This is called transloading and it is another way of avoiding long-term warehousing and getting goods on the move quickly.

The same concept is applicable if you have a single container with products heading to different locations. The products can be segregated and loaded just like the 6-container example above.

Turn to Tenax Transport for a all-in-one solution

If you’re shipping containers by sea or rail into Canada and the US, Tenax Transport has the drayage capabilities to take care of the rest. We are offering logistics services such as warehousing, retail, and B2B distribution, order fulfillment, cross-docking, drayage services, kitting in our new 50,000 square foot facility along with our transportation services!  To learn more about our transportation and warehousing services, contact us today.