National Association of Waterfront Employers
Within a port, there are numerous entities ensuring the efficient flow of imports and exports. Ocean carriers, railroads and over the road trucks are the most recognizable to the average consumer, but terminal operators are the key node in the logistical framework that ensures that goods are offloaded correctly and safely, temporarily stored for pick up, then placed on a truck, or in some cases freight rail, or even domestic barges for onward distribution. In short, terminal operators do all the heavy lifting at ports. Not only when they use their cranes to offload the thousands of tons of shipping containers off of a vessel, but also in their positioning of those containers as they wait to be placed on their proper form of transportation to eventually be carried across the country and their destination. Terminal operators stack and re-stack containers, organize those by imported and exported goods and by company, and get them safely and quickly to where they need to go.
Often, but not always, the operator is a private business and even when a government operator it is operating under commercial contracts; with a shipping line, with labor, and with machinery suppliers/repairers. Marine terminals perform the operations necessary. The Marine Terminal serves as the vital link between Ocean Transport and Land Transport (either rail or truck or even onward barge). Without this link, exports could not sail to global customers nor could imported merchandise be delivered to stores and ultimate customers. The marine terminal is more than the visible ship to shore crane or the gate through which containers roll. The marine terminal is a complex operation orchestrating the port’s workforce, machinery, and information to ensure containers are moved efficiently to their ultimate destination. This operation also must ensure only authorized containers pursuant to commercial and government requirements are moved. Yet, moving containers at a marine terminal facility is a volume business, dependent on efficient use of the facility, and is highly susceptible to congestion triggered by all supply chain partners.
Learn more about this industry through hyperlinks for our Members' websites on the next page.