In transhipment freight, a port is a hub where shipments and containers are transferred from one ship to another or between a truck and a ship to be carried to its final destination.
A container port is typically made up of the following facilities:
- Berths for handling several ships at the same time
- Quay for ship-to-shore operations
- Container transfer area
- Storage area
- Delivery and receiving area connected to road and railway
- Depot for empty containers
- Customs area
- Truck waiting area
Distribution centers and other logistics establishments usually operate around the port area. Improving the overall efficiency within the logistics chain through streamlining the number of container moves, truck traffic, and rail and inland navigation access helps decrease emissions as well. Moreover, development of an Energy Management Plan which identifies emission sources, lists down measures to increase efficiency and sets emissions reduction targets can help port authorities have a wider and more long-term view of how to improve port operations.
Among the two largest sources of unproductive time of ships in ports are the waiting time at berth when the port is closed and the waiting time at berth due to early arrival. Secondly, another important consideration for transhipment nodes are the cargo-handling equipment such as yard trucks, cranes, forklifts, top handlers, side handlers, reach stackers, sweepers, loaders, dozers, excavators, railcar movers, and backhoes. Some areas to improve cargo-handling performance include the use of equipment with cleaner technologies such as filters or catalysts, and the use of cleaner fuel such as low sulfur diesel for cargo-handling engines. However, some equipment is costly, such as the gantry crane that enables swift loading of the cargo, and require large investments on pavement foundation, thus further introducing technologies for these equipment to could make the overall port facility cost higher. Some green port programs encourage technology advancements by funding pilot projects on new technologies.
Thirdly, to maximize the role of ports in intermodal operations, there must be a network of strategically positioned transhipment-capable ports, distribution centers and warehouses, among others, to carry cargo from the ports to its final destinations. Information and communication technology such as geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) can simplify the cargo routing and the coordination among different modes (e.g. truck, rail, inland waterways, and aviation). Another area of focus is infrastructure. For instance, on-shore electricity can be utilized at berth by using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power, and then shore-based power sourcing can be utilized by the ships to reduce vessel hoteling emissions. Having controlled or sectional warehouse lighting and heating can also reduce emissions at port warehouses.