Drayage originally meant "to transport by a sideless cart". In the late 20th century United States, "drayage" has become a term to describe various logistical services in the shipping industry.
Drayage service is sometimes used in trade shows, where a large number of vendors gather in a large exhibition area with a large number of products. Because of the sheer volume of goods, it would create mass confusion if the individual vendors transported their own goods and equipment into the site. Convention centers and hotels do not have the facilities, equipment, or manpower to manage the receiving and storing of all the exhibit freight. Thus, the exhibit sponsor assigns and recommends a drayage service for the entering and exiting of freight and products.
Drayage service is usually provided by a national trucking/shipping company or an International shipment brokerage firm in addition to the transportation of the freight to and from the exhibit site. Drayage service provides for:
- Completing inbound carrier's receiving documents.
- Unloading and delivery of the goods to your booth/stand space from the receiving dock
- Storing of empty cartons/crates and extra products at a on/near-site warehouse
- Pickup of the goods from your booth/stand space to the receiving dock and loading back into the carrier
- Completing outbound carrier's shipping documents.
This is also the case with many malls and so called "shopping streets" where there are many retailers gathered in the same building or street, and it would be too difficult for a delivery company like UPS or FedEx to maneuver their vehicles to all the locations because of parking restrictions or 'pedestrian paradises'. Instead, the mall or street association prepares a drayage area, in a convenient location, where all packages from the tenants and couriers are collected and distributed by a service by the association. This is similar to a "mail room" facility at large corporations.
Drayage is also commonly used to mean the transportation of containerized cargo by specialized trucking companies between ports and inland locations in Intermodal freight transport.
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