Ports vs Terminals
A port can be described as a geographical location, that may extend over many square kilometres. Ports are divided into terminals: depending on its size, a port can have from a couple to several dozen terminals.
A terminal can be described as a set of docks, each with its own purpose. Each terminal of the port is operated by one or more competing private operators, which have obtained a concession or lease to load and unload ships for a certain number of years. These operators are solely responsible for all loading and unloading activities. In contrast, the port authority (often a public entity, but sometimes private) manages the port’s external infrastructure to ensure that goods can easily enter and leave the port on land.
Shipping containers are a common sight at ports. The standard container length is either 20 feet (fitting two standard-size cars) or 40 feet. How much container traffic a port can handle is measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It’s common for a port’s traffic to be in the millions of TEUs.
The main activities at a container terminal
- Quay operations: the entrance and departure of the ship from the port
- Crane operations: the transport of containers from the dock to the stacking zone
- Yard operations: stacking the containers
- Gate operation: the loading of containers on trucks or trains
The abovementioned activities also take place in reverse.
Types of Terminals
The biggest ports in Europe
This port covers an area of 105 sq.km and it reaches about 14.8 million TEU annually. The Rotterdam port’s internal network has over 90 terminals for handling their loading and unloading operations. These terminals connect through direct roads that allow container movement and truck transport.
The port of Antwerp spreads over a total area of 120 sq. km and it reaches around 11.8 million TEU annually. Daily operations take place with over 86 terminals for containers and various cargo handling.
The port is spread over 74 sq. km and an additional area of 90 sq. km for future expansion, reaching around 9.25 million TEU annually. Moreover, Hamburg’s amazing railway network for cargo handling is the biggest in Europe: a total of 50.7% of shipments and cargo handling occurs through the internal railways.