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Container depot and its role in international intermodal transport

Intermodal transport

This is nothing more than the transport of a unified cargo unit through at least two modes of transport, a necessary condition to define such transport as intermodal is the use of, for example, containers.

Intermodal transport is possible, among other things, thanks to the rapidly developing infrastructure of seaports and container depots.

Containerised depots play a key role in the movement of goods in the intermodal chain, including transhipment/manipulation with a load unit from one mode of transport to another, without the need to tranship the goods themselves.

Container depot – his role in sea transport and container transport

It is a place where a cargo vessel, e. g. a sea container, is reloaded from one mode of transport to another means of transport, in order to carry out further stages of transport. It is worth noting that the reloading of goods in land container depots usually takes place between land means of transport, i. e. from train to road transport and from vehicle to square and vice versa, or from vehicle to vehicle.

Stand out:

  • maritime container depots located near seaports (or inland waterways), and
  • onshore terminals often located at the junction of the most important railway and road junctions

In addition to the above mentioned, we also observe the emergence of land container depots, which, despite the lack of a direct connection with the railway line or sea ports, play an important role primarily in transshipment and provide the possibility of storing goods.

In addition to the distinction between sea and land depots, a distinction is also made between so-called „shipowner’s depots”, acting by agreement between the owner of the depot and the shipowner (the owner of the ships and containers), which act as the storage of the containers of the shipowner or of several shipowners, and in which the cargo units are serviced. For several years now, Poland has seen a significant increase in the number of „shipowner despots”;, which is reflected in the interest of global shipowners in making available more and more interesting networks of connections between world directions and Polish ports. Shipowners through the operations „shipowners depots”; look for new customers for the destinations offered by them and thus ensure the availability of equipment (containers) in a given country, optimizing chain costs.

The most common services provided by container depots are in particular the already mentioned short and long term storage/storage services, including customs warehousing, technical maintenance of maritime containers, front to back and vice versa, as well as container weighing services related to the entry into force of SOLAS/VGM.

The work of depots consists mainly in accepting orders for particular movements of containers connected with taking an empty, export or post-import container for further loading, depositing an unloaded sea container for storage, subjecting the unit to repair, or on a storage/warehousing service. Depots play en important role in sea transport. It i salso very crucial when it comes to transport to Poland for instance cointainer transport.

Each shipowner determines in its price list the costs of returning or taking containers from both the seaport and container terminals/depots. Large container terminals/depots accept specific types of containers on a separate basis. Additionally, any movement of the device, i. e. a crane or a special trolley intended to take up or assemble a container, is paid for. There are also additional costs specified by the shipowner in the price list such as: storage, detention and demurage.

Storage are, among others, charges related to storage of a container at the depot, calculated from the moment the container is assembled at the terminal until the moment it is taken over, these costs are most often charged to the forwarder/carrier by the terminal or container depot. The shipowner shall establish so-called „days off” on which the above charges shall not apply. Storage fees apply to both import and export relations.

Demurage is another additional fee, distinguished by the fact that it is collected directly by the shipowner, who precisely determines the time of „days off”; for unloading the container from the ship until the goods are taken over by another means of transport. It is also valid for both import and export and is commonly referred to as the cargo holding fee.

Detention is the third type of additional fee, applied both in import and export, consisting in charging the shipowner for the time of stay of the goods/container outside the terminal/depot.

To sum up, the existence of land terminals/container depots has a significant impact on the development of intermodal transport. Shipowners, controlling the condition of containers available on depots, can quickly and competitively ensure the realization of transports practically overnight, while the carrier and forwarder significantly reduce the time and additional costs, because they can collect or assemble sea containers on many depots/terminals available in the country without the need to go to a sea port each time to deposit/receive a container.

Independent containerised depot

ADECON company has in central Poland, near Kalisz, an independent container depot, equipped with modern infrastructure (lighting, hardened square, 24h security, specialized container trolley), where it provides reloading, handling, storage and weighing of containers (20′, 40′, reefer type containers with the possibility of connecting to electricity and tank containers).


Tags: intermodal transport, international intermodal transport, container transport, containers


09 July 2018|