Automation (Terminal). A full or partial substitution of terminal operations through the use of automated equipment and processes.

Blank sailing. When a shipping line cancels a scheduled port call or a shipping service, mainly due to a lack of demand or to maintain schedule integrity.

Blockchains. Distributed electronic ledgers shared across a network of servers that record transactions in cryptographic units that are called blocks in a permanent and verifiable manner. They are often referred to as digital ledger technologies (DLT).

Breakbulk: General cargo, loaded into a ship or transport mode as individual or bundled pieces, not stowed into a container, or not transported in ship-sized liquid or dry bulk loads.


Cargo dues (berthing dues or wharfage dues): Indivisible charges calculated on the basis of the goods unloaded or loaded by the vessel in port, expressed in tons.

Carrier: The agent (company) moving passengers or freight.

Carrier haulage (Line haulage): Inland movement of a container provided by a shipping line using a haulage contractor acting as a third party. The shipping line selects the carrier, which can be an independent carrier or a subsidiary of the shipping line. The shipping line is liable for any issues taking place during carrier haulage.

Cold chain: The transportation of temperature-sensitive products along a supply chain through thermal and refrigerated packaging methods and the logistical planning to protect the integrity of these shipments. There are several means by which cold chain products can be transported, including refrigerated trucks and railcars, refrigerated cargo ships, reefers, and air cargo.

Concession: A grant by a government or port authority to a (private) operator for providing specific port services, such as terminal operations or nautical services (e.g., pilotage and towage).

Corridor: A linear orientation of transport routes and flows, connecting important locations that act as origins, destinations, or points of transshipment.

Corridor (freight): A linear orientation of freight flows supported by an accumulation of transport infrastructures and activities servicing these flows.

Cruise: At least one night on board a seagoing vessel having a capacity of at least 100 passengers. Transportation (the cruise ship) is the core element of the experience instead of a simple conveyance.

Demurrage. The costs associated with the cargo staying at a terminal beyond a preset free time period and paid by the cargo consignee. Often related to containerized import flows and assessed by the day.

Detention. The costs associated with having the carrier wait to pick up cargo. For container shipping, detention applies when a shipper takes time beyond a preset free time period to return an empty container to a depot or a terminal. Often related to containerized export flows and assessed by the day.

Digitization: The application of new technologies, including sensors, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and predictive analytics allowing or assisting in changing the way that ports operate.

Distribution center (or fulfillment center): A facility that performs consolidation, warehousing, packaging, decomposition, and other functions linked with handling freight. Orders are received, processed, and filled. Their main purpose is to provide value-added services to freight, which is stored for relatively short time periods (days or weeks). Goods stored in a distribution center have usually been sold and are in transit to their destination. They can also perform light manufacturing activities such as assembly and labeling. A distribution center tends to focus on the demand of customers.

Dredging (capital): Dredging to deepen and widen existing rivers or nautical access routes or create a new port or terminal.

Dredging (maintenance): Dredging is done to maintain an existing waterway or channel.

Dry port (or inland port): A rail or a barge terminal that is linked to a maritime terminal with regular inland transport services.

Efficiency: The operational performance of ports and the maximization of the produced output with given resources or the production of a given output with limited possible resources.

Financing: The money lent is regarded as an investment and comes at an interest rate (e.g. commercial and investment banks, bond financing) or required rate of return for the investor. The capital is expected to be recovered.

Financialization: The increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors, and financial institutions in port terminals, ranging from the provision of capital to involvement in terminal operations.

Fourth-Party Logistics Service Provider (4PL): A supply chain integrator that assembles and manages the resources, capabilities, and technology of its organization with complementary service providers to deliver a comprehensive supply chain solution. The competence of 4PLs lies in selecting, linking, and bundling service providers and the alignment of interests of all concerned in the supply chain.

Funding: The provision of money at no interest for developing the port project (e.g. state grants, internal reserves). The capital is not necessarily expected to be recovered.

Gangway: A walkway or bridge connecting the vessel to land. Because access varies widely from one port to another, a cruise ship gangway refers to the place on the ship where passengers enter and exit.

Gateway region: A group of several ports in proximity that are directly competing for the same port calls and hinterland. It has a smaller geographical scale than a container port range.

Global Competitiveness Index (GCI): A composite index of four groups of indicators: enabling environment (institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption, and macro-economic stability), human capital (health, skills), markets (product market, labor market, financial system, market size), and innovation ecosystem (business dynamism, innovation capability).

Green Supply Chain Management (GSCM): A business model that integrates environmental concerns into the inter-organizational practices of SCM.

Hinterland (port): Land area over which a port sells its services and interacts with its users. It is an area over which a port draws most of its business and regroups all the customers directly bounded to the port and the land areas from which it draws and distributes traffic.

Home-port (cruise): A cruise port used as the starting or ending point for a cruise itinerary, most commonly as part of a service loop. Passengers begin and end their cruise, and vessels take on supplies.

Hybrid port (cruise): A cruise port that hosts a blend of home-porting cruise activities and intermediate cruise calls.

Land reclamation: Based on hydraulic fill, a process whereby sediment or rock excavated by dredgers from the seabed or other borrow areas is transported and placed into the designated reclamation area.

Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI): Measures the level of integration into the existing liner shipping network, which can be calculated at the country and the port level. LSCI can be considered a proxy of the accessibility to global trade through to proxy of its shipping network.

Logistics, Port centric. Refers to the range of freight transportation and distribution activities that are directly related to port terminals.

Logistics Performance Index (LPI): A composite of a country’s rating across seven criteria: customs clearance, logistics infrastructure, ease of international shipments, logistics competence/internal skillsets and service providers, tracking and tracing capabilities, domestic logistics costs, and timeliness/consistency.

Marine charges (tonnage dues): Indivisible charges calculated on the basis of the ship’s tonnage.

Merchant haulage: The movement of a container assumed by the merchant (the cargo owner or an agent acting on its behalf) using a contracted carrier. The merchant selects the carrier. The carrier is liable for any damage taking place during transport.

Minimum Efficient Scale (MES): The smallest scale at which the output can be produced at a minimum average long-run cost ( is reached when marginal and average costs no longer decrease when capacity is expanded) under the assumption that the terminal is operating with a given technology.

Multiplier: An index (ratio) that indicates the overall change in the level of activity that results from an initial change in activity. It effectively adds up all of the successive rounds of re-spending, assuming that major factors such as input prices are unchanged and that there are no resource limitations.

Port authority: A public or a private entity that, whether or not in conjunction with other activities, under national law or regulation is empowered to carry out the (i) administration, (ii) development, (iii) management, and, occasionally, (iv) operation of the port land and infrastructure and (v) the coordination and control of port operation activities.

Port Community Systems (PCS): Information entity that makes available logistical information among the actors involved in port-related freight distribution, including freight forwarders that act as intermediaries for importers (consignees) or exporters (consignors), terminal operators that are the interface between the port foreland and hinterland, customs, ocean carriers, inland carriers and the port authority itself.

Port competition: Competition for trades, with terminals as the competing units, logistics, transport, and industrial enterprises as the chain managers of the respective trades and port authorities and port policymakers as co-developers of the broadly defined port complex.

Port governance: The adoption and enforcement of rules governing conduct and exercising authority and institutional resources in order to develop and manage port activities for the benefit of the society and the economy.

Port holding: An entity, commonly private that owns or leases port terminals in a variety of locations. It is also known as a port terminal operator.

Port of call (cruise): A port visited as an intermediate stop en route to another destination: cruise vessels call for a few hours before continuing their itinerary.

Port regionalization: The logistical integration between maritime and inland transport systems, particularly through the development of rail and barge corridors between a port and a network of inland load centers.

Quay wall: A soil retaining structure that provides a mooring place for ships, bearing capacity for crane loads, goods and storage, and sometimes a water-retaining function.

Range (port): A group of ports situated along the same seashore and potentially sharing access to a hinterland.

Resilience: The mechanism that allows a transportation infrastructure to cope and recover from disruptions while being able to maintain operations.

Seaport: A logistic and industrial node in global supply chains with a strong maritime character and a functional and spatial clustering of activities that are directly or indirectly linked to seamless and sustainable transportation, transformation, and information processes within global supply chains.

Supply Chain Management (SCM): The coordination and management of a complex network of activities involved in delivering a finished product to end-users or customers. It includes sourcing raw materials and parts, manufacturing and assembling products, storage, order entry and tracking, distribution through the various channels, and finally delivery to the customer.

Terminalization: Terminals taking up a more active role in supply chains with operational considerations such as berthing windows, dwell time charges, truck slots, to increase throughput, optimize terminal capacity and make the best use of available land. Also involves logistics players making best use of the free time available in seaports terminals and inland terminals, thereby optimizing the terminal buffer function.

Third-Party Logistics Provider (3PL): An asset-based company that offers logistics and supply chain management services to its customers (manufacturers and retailers). It commonly owns assets such as distribution centers and transport modes.

Transit port (cruise): see: port of call.

Turnaround port (cruise):see: home-port.

Value-added logistics services (VALS): Activities integrating the production and distribution segments of a supply chain. They range from low-end activities that add little value to the goods, mostly transport and storage, to high-end activities such as postponed manufacturing, including systems assembly, testing, and software installation.

Warehouse: A facility designed to store goods for longer periods of time. Goods stored in a warehouse have usually not yet been sold and are held in inventory until a buyer is found. A warehouse is driven by the supply of manufacturers and wholesalers.