In Depth: Container Efficiency through Cooperation

Port of RotterdamImage Courtesy: Port of Rotterdam

A new collaboration makes it possible that vessels that call on multiple terminals in Moerdijk and Tilburg will be combining cargo destined for a single deep-sea container terminal in the Port of Rotterdam – and vice versa.

Cooperation is a recurring theme within the Dutch maritime sector. Working together is necessary to create a seamless transport network.

An example of the need for cooperation within the maritime cluster was the arrival of the first 20,000-plus TEU container ships onto the world shipping stage. The substantial capacities of these mammoth ships have put pressure on supporting services in and around ports to maintain efficient through-flow to hinterland connections.

In response to this, a new collaborative relationship has been formed. Barge Terminal Tilburg, Combined Cargo Terminals, Moerdijk Container Terminals, and Danser Group have joined forces to reduce inland waterway congestion and optimise container transport on the so-called ‘West Brabant Corridor’ that connects the inland ports of Tilburg and Moerdijk with the Port of Rotterdam.

Luc Smits, Managing Director of Combined Cargo Terminals in Moerdijk, explains the motivations behind the cooperation: “Sea-going container vessels are becoming bigger and bigger. And the hinterland will need to follow suit by bundling cargo and thinking in terms of corridors rather than simply lining up on the water. This ensures that inland shipping remains a reliable and competitive transport option.”

Considering the fact that more than three million TEU are shipped in and out of the Port of Rotterdam by inland vessels every year, such a collaborative effort will surely contribute to Rotterdam’s effectiveness as container hub.

“It results in scaling up which is a crucial requirement for every player in the chain,” adds Wil Versteijnen on behalf of Barge Terminal Tilburg.

In addition to aligning itself with joint strategies relating to cargo transport corridors from both national and local government, as well as relevant port authorities, the initiative has an ‘open access’ policy, meaning that any shipper is free to use the service.

Furthermore, the advantages of a more efficient use of vessels go further than just reducing congestion during handling in the Port of Rotterdam, as Ben Maelissa, Managing Director of the Danser Group, states: “And the fact that combining vessels has improved capacity utilisation even further is also good news from an environmental perspective.”

The initiative came out of the sector-wide inland container shipping consultations launched by the Port of Rotterdam Authority last year. This consultation was organised in response to various reports of increased waiting times at Rotterdam’s deep-sea terminals.

“We are delighted with the decision of the deep sea terminals, inland terminals and transport companies to take this step and work together,” says Emile Hoogsteden, Director of Containers, Breakbulk & Logistics of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

“It’s good to see these parties thinking in terms of their common interest as a chain so that they can help improve the smooth handling of inland container flows. This allows us to jointly contribute to the on-going development of Rotterdam and the Netherlands as Europe’s most efficient and reliable logistics hub.”


This article was previously published in Maritime Holland edition #2 – 2018.

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