What is transshipment in logistics?

Transshipment in logistics occurs when cargo either individual pallets or full containers are moved from one transporter to another while being moved from the collection place to the delivery place. This practice is frequently undertaken by shipping lines in order to maximise the cargo loading of their vessels. Transhipping containers allows shipping lines to serve smaller ports which the large ocean vessels (often called the Mother Vessel) are unable to enter due to their draft,length or width. These are called feeder services and allow the small ports to connect to other ports all over the world.  For container ocean freight services one of the biggest transshipment port is Singapore in the Far East. Other major transshipment ports are Rotterdam in Europe which has many feeder services calling at UK ports , Jebel Ali in the Middle East and Hong Kong in China.

Transshipment is a regular feature of multi-model shipments. Containers moving from an inland destination may initially move from a inland terminal to a port by rail, they are then transshipped onto a vessel and taken to the nearest destination port. Next they are transhipped onto a train, and sent by rail to the destination terminal.

For shippers moving containers which are going to be transhipped it does not mean any additional paperwork. Shippers should be aware that ocean transit times will normally always be longer compared to a direct service as the container has to be off loaded to quay and then wait for the feeder vessel to arrive at the port before being reloaded.  Depending on how close the port is to the final destination this additional transit time may be offset as the final on-carriage by road or rail will be shorter. For shippers the main benefit for a transshipment service from a main country port to another main port is cheaper freight rates. So for low value, or non time sensitive shipments these routes are worth considering in any supply chain planning.

Co-loaders who consolidate part cargoes from many shippers may transship cargoes at strategic ports locations around the world. This allows the co-loader to increase efficiency and reduce transport costs for shippers.  A co-loader may ship from 6 ports spread around the two different regions. The cargo from each individual port is insufficient to fill a full container for the other five ports. So the co-loader has a central port where all the cargo is consolidate. Now the co-loader has sufficient cargo to fill a container for each port. Neither the shipper nor the consignee is effected is still going being moved as contracted, but all parties benefit from the lower costs.  Shippers should always ensure their cargo is suitably packed to ensure the shipment withstand being handle multiple times.

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