Tag Archive for: port terminals

Back to Basics: Port Terminals

Normally, it is easy to think about a particular port as one, indivisible entity. However ports themselves have a number of actors that comprise the overall port community. Just like pieces of a puzzle, port terminals are the different parts that make up a port. In this article we take a closer look at port terminals, looking at the kinds of port terminals that exist and at their corresponding characteristics.

What are Port Terminals?

“Ports are harbour areas in which marine terminal facilities are transferring cargo and passengers between ships and land transportation” by Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue and Dr. Theo Notteboom

Essentially, ports are areas where land and sea merge and where cargo ships and vessels dock to load and unload cargo, fuel and passengers. To facilitate this, ports are hosts to terminals. Depending on the size, they can have one terminal or several. These terminals, in turn, are specialised in the handling of the different types of cargo.

Terminals can be divided into three major categories:

  1. General Cargo (unitized cargo)
  2. Bulk Cargo (loose cargo)
  3. Passengers (passengers and vehicles)

Furthermore, within this division of categories of port terminals, more divisions can be identified, each serving a different purpose and classified by the type of traffic or cargo that is processed.

Divided by types of cargo these are:

Diving deeper, we can take a closer look at how these types of terminals operate.  Let’s take a closer look at these terminal types.

  1. Container terminals

Perhaps the most easily recognised terminals in (cargo) ports are ones that can process containers. These terminals are designed to handle the large containers that are used to transport goods across the world. They have cranes and other handling equipment to move containers from ships to trucks or trains for further transportation.

  1. Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) terminals

As its name indicates, these terminals are used for vehicles -to roll on and off- like a cars, trucks, and buses that are driven onto ships for transportation. They have ramps or elevators to load and unload vehicles. A modern Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) terminal is a facility designed to handle the loading and unloading of vehicles from ships quickly, efficiently and safely.

  1. Liquid terminals

When talking about liquid terminals we intend those handling liquids such as petroleum, chemicals and liquefied natural gas. For this, they have pipelines and storage tanks for the transfer of liquids from ships to land-based storage facilities.

  1. Dry bulk terminals

For handling dry cargo such as grain, coal, and minerals exist Dry Bulk Terminals. They have storage silos and conveyor systems to move the cargo from ships to storage or onto trucks and trains. These terminals are designed to ensure the safe and efficient handling of these goods, while minimizing the risk of damage or spoilage.

  1. Breakbulk terminals

These terminals exist for the handling of cargo that is too large or too heavy to be shipped in standard shipping containers. This type of cargo includes heavy machinery, steel, and lumber that is not packaged in containers, oversized equipment, etc. They have cranes and other handling equipment to move the cargo from ships to trucks or trains. Modern breakbulk terminals use technology to streamline the handling of cargo and minimize the risk of damage or loss, while also incorporating environmentally sustainable practices

  1. Passenger terminals

 Designed to handle the boarding and disembarking of passengers on cruise ships and ferries, they tend to  include amenities such as baggage storage, restaurants, and shopping areas for tourists. Modern passenger terminals are designed to provide a comfortable and efficient experience for passengers, while also ensuring the safety and security of people on board and their belongings, while also incorporating environmentally sustainable practices.


To summarise then it can be said that the type of terminal found in a port depends on the types of cargo and vessels that frequent the port. Some terminals specialize in handling specific goods, such as containers or liquids, while others are equipped to handle dangerous goods. Each terminal has its own unique features and facilities to handle specific types of cargo efficiently and safely. What determines the number of terminals in a port is the size of the traffic that frequents it – busier ports with better connections tend to be hosts to more terminals than smaller enclaves. Nevertheless all of them depend on the efficient management of said terminals and their successful operation is connected to the successful network within the existing port community.

If you are interested to know more, or if you’d like to witness port operations to a vessel or to goods, get in touch and check out our upcoming annual summer school on port operations.


Tag Archive for: port terminals

Port Operations 2023

Training in Port Operations

Better port services for an efficient port community

VESSELS: 3 –7 JULY 2023

GOODS: 10-14 JULY 2023








  • Students of port management, nautical and maritime transport, transport management and logistics
  • Early or mid-career ship and port agents wishing to expand their knowledge
  • Shipping company personnel wishing to understand the work of the agent
  • Port terminal personnel wishing to understand how port operations and services work

Some of the companies that entrust the training of their employees with the Escola:



3rd – 14th July 2023

Port of Barcelona



Port operations are necessary to facilitate maritime trade between trading partners. It is pivotal to ensure that the operations are smooth and avoid congestion in the harbour. Hence, port operations can be defined as all policies, reforms and regulations that influence the infrastructure and operations of port facilities. This includes shipping services.

Maritime transport and port security has become a major concern in recent years, in particular in light of the 9/11 terror attacks. Measures taken to increase security, such as the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) code, had a significant impact on trade and port operations. The SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) initiative came to life as well; a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security for the port and the ships in the harbour.


International maritime transport costs tend to be on average between two to three times as high as the custom duties of importing countries. Even so it is the cheapest way of transporting large amounts of goods compared with other transport methods.

Big differences exist between countries regarding the quality and costs of the port and shipping services available to their importers and exporters (e.g. in terms of towage operations, mooring, etc.). The existing infrastructure and connectivity of the port are also of major importance for traders when chosing to bring their goods to their destinations.


  • To provide training in port operations for vessels and goods.
  • To show port operations and port facilities in detail and from a practical perspective.
  • To offer deep insight into maritime logistics, its actors and roles.
  • To offer deep insight into types of terminals, cargo particularities and cargo inspections.


  • Analyzing the current situation

    Obtaining full visibility of port operations to vessels and merchandise through field visits and debates with industry experts.

  • Technical Training

    Providing training and information to people who will manage and make decisions in port operations and services to vessels and goods.

  • Practical Workshops

    Giving an eminently practical point of view: showing the participants the main actors in the port, its operations and how they are managed and developed. Allowing students to experience these operations first hand.

This course, based on an experiential learning method, combines:

Lectures - Escola Courses


Theoretical classes on topics of interest in port operations, given by experts and academics in the sector.

Participants of the Port Operations Summer School


Visits to port terminals and port businesses


Specific networking activities between the participants and the experts of the sector.




Port operations for vessels+goods:


General admission:

Port Operations for vessels: 650€/ pers.

Port Operations for goods: 650€/ pers.

The tuition price includes transfers and all the activities described in the programme.

*FUNDAE subsidized courses for Spanish companies

For more information…Contact us!

A first class experience, with very professional and experienced instructors in maritime and port operations, as well as excellent people. Navigation was quite productive and contributed greatly to raising our knowledge, so that it could be replicated in our organizations.

With the support of: