Intermodal Transportation
and Terminal Operations
Capt. Atuldutt Sharma
Intermodal Transportation
• Includes more than one mode
– air, rail, road, water
• Typically refers to containerized goods
– as opposed to bulk or general cargo
– requires containers
– less labor than traditional freight handling
• The majority of the costs are incurred between
modes (in terminals)
Bulk Cargo
Wet bulk cargo refers to fluids like oil
Dry bulk cargo refers to non-fluids such
as grain, coal, etc..
Many goods that used to be shipped as
bulk cargo (grain, bananas, coffee beans)
are now shipped in containers (IP grain)
Historically well developed commodities
General Cargo
• Whatever needs moving
• Flatbed trucks for odd-shapes
• General cargo vessels
Intermodal Containers
Primarily International Trade Routes
There are many varieties of
Standard containers (20’, 40’, 45’ height 8’6’’)
Hard top containers (removable steel roof)
Open top containers
Flat racks
Domestic containers (53’)
Refrigerated containers (require clear space)
Tank containers
High cube container (9’6’’ tall)
• One 20’ container is a Twenty foot Equivalent Unit (TEU)
Marine Terminal Actors
Steamship lines (Maersk, CMA CGM, MOL, etc)
Terminal Operators (APM, DP World, PSA, etc)
Port Authorities (JNPT)
County Governments (Ministry of Shipping and Surface transport)
Security agencies (CISF)
Drayage drivers and Licensed Motor Carriers
Importers or Shippers
Freight forwarders and expeditors
3PLs or Logistics providers
Customs brokers
Labor Unions
Interest Groups
Railroads (CONCOR, Gateway Rail, etc)
Own objectives and remuneration or incentive schemes
A station where freight is received or discharged
Situated at the end
Placed at a boundary
A point or part that forms the end
From terminus (end)
• The name reflects their historic role
• In the intermodal world we usually refer to
intermodal yards rather than terminals
Terminals or interchanges occur in
all modes
Bus terminals
Marine terminal or port
Ferry terminal
Train station
Rail yard or terminal
Cross-dock facility
Distribution center
Intermodal yard
• They have common characteristics, I’ll focus today on
marine ports and intermodal yards
Characteristics of Freight Terminals
Modal access (dock, siding, road), unloading areas
Intermodal lifting equipment, storing equipment
Yard for empty and loaded containers
Administration, maintenance, access (gates), information
Free trade zone, logistical services
Transloading, cross-docking, warehousing, temperature
controlled (cold chain)
Storage depot
Container depot, bulk storage
Washing, preparation, repair
Container Handling
Transferring the contents of smaller containers into larger containers (e.g.
three maritime 40 foot containers into two 53 foot domestic containers).
Cost savings (number of lifts). Time delays.
Weight compliance
Transferring the contents of heavy containers into loads meeting national or
regional road weight limits.
Placing loose (floor loaded) containerized cargo unto pallets. Adapting to
local load units (e.g. europallet).
Handing back containers to owner (maritime shipping or leasing company) by
transferring its contents into another load unit (e.g. domestic container).
Equipment availability
Making maritime containers available for exports and domestic containers
available for imports. Trade facilitation.
Supply chain
Terminal and transloading facility as a buffer. Delay decision to route freight
to better fulfill regional demands. Perform some added value activities
(packaging, labeling, final assembly, etc.)
Shipping Lines and Importers have
different goals for container management
Reduction of unit transport costs (three
maritime 40 footer containers into two
domestic 53 footers).
Added-value activities (sorting,
packing, labeling, etc.).
Routing flexibility through
Transloading costs.
Loss of at least one day
of inland transit time.
Possible shortage of
domestic containers.
Not all cargo suitable.
Reconciling different
container loads
(additional delays).
Risk of damage or theft
of cargo during
Limit repositioning of empty containers.
Risk of container damage.
Higher asset utilization (faster container
Less equipment available
inland for exports.
Port Operations
Quay Crane
Local Storage Gate
Discharging container flow
Loading container flow
Terminal Layout
Terminal Layout
Rail Yard & Rail Siding
Port productivity metrics
TEUs per hectare
TEUs per annum
Dwell time
Terminal time
Crane productivity
– Crane cycle time
– Lifts per hour
– Moves per hour
Operational Improvements
• Technology implementations
– RFID, GPS, OCR, automation
• Land area utilization (stacking)
– Rail mounted gantry cranes
• Extended gate hours
• Truck appointment systems
• Crane Utilization
– Double cycling
• Increase Intermodal Percentage
– containers typically have shorter dwell times
Productivity Improvements
• As is true across the board in
transportation, infrastructure is expensive
to build, or impossible to build
• Solutions must be found to manage
demand and utilize infrastructure better
• There is evidence our ports are
“unproductive” and that we can expect
better utilization of the infrastructure
Terminal Operating Sytem (TOS)
• All modern container terminals today use
Terminal Operating Systems (TOS).
• These systems enable terminal staff to
track, trace, plan container movements
• There are various service providers who
provide such softwares and system.
• With growing volumes being handled by
terminals use of such systems has now
become absolutely necessary.
Average crane productivity at
different container ports
Typical View of Quay Crane (Gantry)
Rubber Tyre Gantry Cranes (RTGC)
Reach Stacker
Normal Container trailer
Low bed trailers
Cargo on Low bed trailers
Vessel Layout
Stowage& Stacks
Cell guides inside holds
Lashing Bridges
Stowage Planning
• Definitions :
• Profile – is the cross sectional view of the entire ship covering both the
deck and under-deck of the ship..
• Bayplan – is the complete cross sectional view of the entire ship
covering both the deck and under-deck of the ship, but displayed or
printed per bay
• Bay – each container vessel is split into compartments which are
termed as Bay and depending on the size of the ship it will proceed
from 01 to 40 (for example) where Bay 01 is the bay towards the Bow
(the front) of the ship and Bay 40 is the Stern (the back) of the ship..
Odd numbered bays (1,3,5 etc) means that it is a 20’ stow and Even
numbered bay (2,4,6 etc) means that it is a 40’ stow..
• Row is the position where the container is placed across the width
of the ship.. If you refer to the above diagram, the Row numbers are
circled in Red.. It starts with 01 in the centre and progresses
outwards with odd numbers on the right and even numbers on the
• Tier denotes at which level the container is placed – basically how
high the container is stacked on board.. In the above diagram, the
Tier numbers are circled in Blue..
• Hatch Covers (the dark intermittent lines in the above picture) are
the covers that separate the deck from the under-deck.. The area
above the line is called the deck (which is generally visible to us
when we look at the ship) and the area below the line is called
under-deck (which is not visible to us from outside the ship)..
• The planning is mainly done on a document called a “profile” which
can be viewed here.. The profile provides the full cross section of a
ship at one glance.. The enlarged version of this will be the actual
bay itself.. Currently, the stowage planning is mostly done via
Typical Stowage Plan
Basics of Stowage Plan
• All vessels come in and out of port based on windows.
• Windows are decided basis berthing schedules agreed move counts
on the service.
• Average moves/hr for each crane and total number of cranes to be
allotted per vessel are decided basis window schedules.
• For example:
• Export Moves: 1200
• Import Moves: 800
• Total Moves: 2000.
• Avg moves/hr/crane – 30 per crane.
• Total cranes available – 3
• So max window available as per below
Total moves (2000)
---------------------------------------------- = 22.22hrs + berth/unberth = 25hrs
Avg moves (30) x no of cranes (3)
Distribution of Cargo on vessel
• As evident from the calculation earlier the window time available to
vessel’s is very tight vis a vis crane move count and number of
cranes used.
• Thus the planner needs to distribute the cargo moves on the vessel
in such a manner so as to have all cranes working all the time
through out the vessel’s stay in port.
• Idling of any one crane will seriously impact the working of the
• This will lead to vessel having to sail without completing her moves
which in turn leads to cargo accumulating in the terminal and
subsequent delays to the vessel.
• Taking into account this very important factor planner plan the cargo
spread on the vessel so as to have maximum efficiency whilst
vessel is in port.
Out of Guage containers Stowage
• Out of gauge containers are usually stowed underdeck and
in case of an On Deck Stow, careful consideration will be required.
Local planner or agent may be requested for such approval prior
Hatch cover clearance and Cell guide clearance must be verified to
confirm that there will be no damage to the vessel or cargo when
loaded. Appropriate number of slots must be kept vacant to
accommodate the OOG cargo as necessary.
Break bulk Operations
• Handling Breakbulk,out of gauge (OOG) and Open containers
Break bulk cargo is usually stowed on flat racks and platforms. It is
important to confirm that the break bulk cargo itself is properly secured
onto the Flat rack or Platform prior loading on board. If additional
lashing or tightening of existing lashing is required, this must be done
by terminal staff to the vessels satisfaction.
If not, vessel operator shall be advised of situation and in any case
such shipment posing serious danger to vessels safety shall not be
accepted for carriage.
• Prior loading out of gauge cargo, hatch cover clearance and cell
guide clearance must be verified to confirm that there will be no
contact or damage to the vessel or cargo when loaded. Close
monitoring during loading will also be required as sometimes
protrusion dimensions provided may not be accurate. Loading Out of
gauge units will likely involve use of special equipment attached
to gantry cranes.
Examples of Breakbulk cargo
Types of Special gears for handling BB cargo
Special gears for handling
Extra OOG’s handled ex NSA
Extra OOG’s handled ex NSA
Extra OOG’s handled ex NSA
48mt Piece BB handling at PSA, Singapore
Thank You
In Quest of Excellence