While port regionalization relates to the process that a port undertakes to improve its accessibility to its hinterland, the extended gate concept refers to the strategies by a single terminal operator to improve its hinterland services. Therefore, an extended gate is a specific form of port regionalization where the services offered by a terminal operator go beyond its gate. It involves a horizontal and vertical integration and extension of its services.
- Horizontal Integration. Terminal operators have the option of setting services to a terminal located in another port, and this either through maritime (feeders) or land (rail shuttles, barge services) connections. Thus, they can deliver containers in a nearby port on behalf of their customers as a service to that port only available if a selected port is used. This is particularly the case if a terminal operator has assets in both ports and wishes to improve their utilization level. A new form of port competition takes shape. Extended gates also rely on better management of the inventory that is temporarily stored at the terminal, enabling owners to have the opportunity to pick up or drop cargo (containers) at a moment that better fits their supply chains. Another form of horizontal integration concerns the setting of extended distribution centers that effectively use the inland port (or the port terminal) as a warehouse, implying that once a container is at the terminal, it can be considered part of the inventory of the warehouse.
- Vertical Integration. The integration of a terminal with transloading activities and container depots is a form of vertical integration where a terminal operator offers, or connects to, inland logistical services beyond its gates. However, it is the use of inland ports that represent the most advanced form of vertical integration for an extended gate strategy. By setting transport services to an inland port facility, a terminal operator can deliver (or pick up) containers at a facility closer to main importers or exporters. The inland port becomes the extended gate of the port terminal. Additional activities, such as customs clearance, can also take place at the inland facility.