In the logistics industry, there are many terms that are being used on a daily basis like less than truckload, drayage, reefers, intermodal, dry vans, etc. Most freight brokers and logistics professionals know about them. But intermodal and drayage trucking is two such terms that often confuse people and are sometimes used interchangeably. Both are two very different segments of the freight industry that are closely related.
What do they mean? What’s the difference between the two? How are they connected with each other? Let us find out.
Intermodal & Drayage Trucking: What do They Mean?
Intermodal shipping involves moving goods via multiple modes over long distances without having them handled by individual haulers along each leg of the journey.
For example, a company in Maharashtra, India needs to export spices to Chicago, Illinois. They will first need to move the containers via ocean from a sea port in India to the one in the US. From the sea port in the US, the load will then be delivered to its final destination via road. Since, here more than one mode of transportation is used to ship the container, it is intermodal shipping.
This method saves money since only one carrier needs be paid instead of several independent contractors along each route segment between two destinations. It also reduces environmental impact because fewer trucks will be on roads at once carrying goods across country lines which helps reduce congestion caused by idling engines idling away precious fuel resources waiting for traffic lights ahead.
On the other hand, drayage trucking involves moving shipments over short distances between hubs within port districts. Drayage carriers provide services to and from ports, terminals, rail yards and warehouses. They transport cargo from one location to another within a single mode of transportation (such as by land).
Further, drayage can be a part of intermodal shipping where the containers need to be picked from the port and transported via road.
How are Intermodal and Drayage Shipping Connected?
Intermodal and drayage trucking are two intertwined segments of the freight industry. The connection between intermodal trucking and drayage changes depending on your perspective. If you are a shipper who exports goods worldwide, both intermodal and drayage trucking will be interconnected for you. To ship your loads, you will need two or may be more than two modes of transportation.
However, if you are a broker or a carrier who is into OTR transportation, you will be concerned about only one step. In such case, both the terms will have no connection for you.
Intermodal Shipping Versus Drayage Trucking: Which One to Choose?
If you have to ship a container locally between hubs within port districts, go for drayage. While both intermodal shipping companies and drayage trucking companies can handle small loads that need to be delivered locally, a drayage company will be able to move them quickly and efficiently while an intermodal carrier may not be able to do so as easily.
Remember that drayage carriers are usually local to the port district and do not usually have a national network. They are also smaller than intermodal carriers because they don’t ship out of state or across country very often. So, if you want to move loads over long distances, you can go for intermodal shipping.
Before you choose any logistics company, decide which type of trucking service works best for your needs.