Source: Notteboom, T. and J-P Rodrigue (2005) "Port Regionalization:
Towards a New Phase in Port Development", Maritime Policy and
Management, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 297-313.
The movement of empty trucks or containers represents one of the
most complex transport problems in freight distribution. Acute imbalances
in international trade has expanded the scale of this problem and even
impacted on freight transport rates (transpacific rates are usually higher for
eastbound flows than for westbound flows). Since transport systems are
now more integrated, partially due to logistics, it becomes possible
to cope more efficiently with this problem by minimizing empty movements
through cargo rotation.
On the above figure, it is assumed that there
are two inland locations, one which imports more that it exports (location
A) and the other that exports more than it imports (location B). In
a discontinuous system of supply flow management (for instance, each
location is serviced by different transport companies), this situation
would generate a large quantity of empty flows, namely from the
import location back to the port terminal and then from the port
terminal . However, by integrating
the flows, it is possible to re-allocate empty flows from location A
to location B and thus improving the efficiency of distribution.
However, this requires a marketplace where container demand can
be reconciled with container supply.