|Consolidation||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
Remove the weight of the container (2.4 tons for a 20 TEU box and 4.3 tons for a 40 TEU box) and shift to a lighter load unit.
|Palletizing||Placing loose (floor loaded) containerized cargo unto pallets. Adapting to local load units (e.g. europallet).|
|Demurrage||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 management||Terminal and transloading facility as a consolidation buffer. Delay decision to route freight to better fulfill regional demands. Perform some added value activities (packaging, labeling, final assembly, etc.)|
- Consolidation. In cases where this is a significant market for domestic containers and the domestic load unit is larger than the maritime load unit, shipments consolidation is often performed. In North America the largest domestic load unit is 53 foot, which represents the maximal legal size of a truck load on the highway. Thus, in distribution centers in the vicinity of several major port terminals the contents of three maritime containers are transferred into two domestic containers. This enables cost savings as shipment costs, including terminal costs, are established in terms of loads. Rail terminals charge by the number of lifts, which means it costs the same to handle a 40 foot or a 53 foot container. Under such circumstances, transloading costs are compensated by savings on inland transport costs, which can be in the range of 30% compared with the option of moving maritime containers inland. Yet, transloading involves some risks such as damage and theft or additional delays to perform (about one day), which may not be suitable for several goods.
- Weight compliance. Simply involves shifting the contents of heavy containers into lighter loads such as domestic containers or twenty footers. This is particularly the case for the containerized movement of commodities. However, transloading heavy maritime containers into domestic containers is not a common practice.
- Palletizing. Very common for shipments of consumption goods. To gain shipment space in imbalanced flows many containers are "floor loaded" and once arriving near consumption markets, the shipments are broken down and assembled into pallets. This also gives the opportunity to adapt to local load units that involve different sizes, such as the difference between North American and European pallets. Doing such a task at the point of origin would be logistically complex.
- Demurrage. Containers are commonly leased for a specific time period. The leasing contract may also specify that the maritime container cannot leave the vicinity of the port or cannot spend more than a specific amount of time inland. Transloading is thus performed to insure that the leased container is handed back to the maritime shipping or the leasing company without additional charge. This tends to reduce the repositioning of empty containers over long distances and promotes a higher level of asset utilization for the container lessor.
- Equipment availability. This often takes place in conjunction with demurrage. Transloading enables a more efficient use of both container assets (international and domestic) and can facilitate international trade by freeing transport capacity. For instance, moving maritime containers over long distances in the North American transport system can be considered a suboptimal usage of transport equipment, particularly from the perspective of maritime shipping companies. Conversely, the global maritime shipping industry is mainly designed to handle 40 foot containers and cannot accommodate domestic containers. However, a large amount of transloading for inbound shipments may reduce the availability of maritime containers available for export at inland locations. This is a salient problem for the export of containerized commodities.
- Supply chain management. A transloading facility can act as a buffer within a supply chain, enabling shippers some room to synchronize the delivery of goods with the time requirements of their customers. This is particularly the case for long distance trade where a shipment can be in transit for several weeks while the demand conditions at the destination may have meanwhile changed. Transloading enables to delay the decision about routing freight to the final destination by using the facility as an opportunity to do last minute adjustments in terms of which shipments should go to which markets. Another common supply chain practice concerns the assembly and consolidation of loads for a specific market (merge-in-transit) which transloading offer. For instance, large retail importers commonly purchase goods from several foreign suppliers. Transloading offers the opportunity to consolidate the loads for specific regional distribution centers or stores. in this context the transloading facility performs a function similar to a cross-docking facility. Also, transloading represents an opportunity to perform some added value activities (packaging, labeling, final assembly, etc.) before shipments arrive at final markets. It works well when long inland distances and several regional distribution centers are concerned.