Basic Categories of Port Operations

+ Maritime & Vessel Related Procedures (all vessel types)

+ Shipping traffic management

Shipping traffic management covers the input of preventive instruments (i.e. traffic instruments), which include rules and regulations, routing measures, position fixing, fairway marking, supplying of information, vessel traffic services (VTS), reporting information systems and piloting.


+ Lock planning (if applicable)

One key component of the port’s infrastructure is a lock, i.e. the length of water with gates at each end where the level of water can be changed to allow boats to move between parts of a canal or river that are at different heights. A suboptimal usage of the locks’ capacity can strongly increase the handling times of ships. When the lock is unable to transfer a given ship in time, this ship could miss its time window at the terminal, leading to strong increase in total time in port and reduced efficiency of the terminal. Improved lock planning can therefore play an important role in increasing port’s efficiency and economical attractiveness.


+ Berth allocation (request, selection, approval)

The request, selection and approval of a processing interval and a berth at the quay wall for each ship to be loaded/unloaded, in order to manage the available berthing capacity which has become a major bottleneck in many ports.


+ Pilotage

The act carried out by a pilot of assisting the master of a ship in navigation when entering or leaving a port. Sometimes used to define the fee payable for the services of a pilot.


+ Tug services

Among the most important elements that affect the performance of the harbour, and that have been the subject of complaint by port users particularly in developing countries, are tug services. These services are often compulsory and consist in moving the ship from the anchorage area to the berth and vice versa. One of the simple techniques that can be used for analysing harbour terminal operations is queuing theory.

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+ Ship’s waste collection

The handling of waste consists of two main phases: collection and treatment. Waste has to be collected in every port and on board every ship, whereas generally only some wastes are treated and to a certain degree in ports and on board ships.

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+ Ship supplies (victuals, bunkers, lubricants, deck stores etc.)

A large range of items for the supply of vessels with all necessary products and equipment, including everyday provisions (fresh, frozen and dry), cabin accessories, deck / engine / nautical equipment and miscellaneous products (tobacco, drinks, perfumes etc.), as well as the associated warehousing and logistics services.

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+ Passenger Services (passenger & RO-PAX vessels)

+ Passenger disembarkation

All required services and processes related to the safe and organized disembarkation of passengers from the ship.

+ Security measures (ISPS implementation, Customs and immigration checks

The main processes and measures of port security including immigration controls and customs checks. The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code contains detailed security-related requirements for governments, port authorities and shipping companies, together with a series of guidelines about how to meet these requirements.

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+ Internal transport to rail/road connections

All available services, modes and equipment used for passengers to be transferred from one mode of transportation to another within/around the port terminal(s).

+ Ticketing

The process whereby customers can order, pay for, obtain and validate tickets to travel on a ship. Electronic/mobile ticketing allows this process to be completed from any location and at any time (using PC, tablets, mobile phones), while integrated ticketing allows a person to transfer within or between different transport modes with a single ticket that is valid for the complete journey.

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+ Emergency procedures

The actions to be taken in an emergency or potential emergency in the harbour area in the event of a major incident declared by emergency services.

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+ Visual/Dynamic passenger information systems - Wi-Fi & Web information

Visual/dynamic information systems (e.g. Wi-Fi, Web, mobile) related to the collection, creation and supply of accurate, timely, and in increasing number of cases, real-time transport data and information to the users. These applications play an important role with regard to the quality of service for travellers.

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+ Cargo Handling Procedures (freight vessels)

+ Containers (LO-LO)

+ Lo-Lo cargo

The Lift-on / Lift-off cargo handling involves transfer of commodities to and from the ship using shoreside cranes or other ship's gear.

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+ Yard planning (Lo-Lo)

The process of assigning optimal allocation of storage areas for import, export and transhipment containers. Assignment of storage location for arriving containers is important in improving the efficiency of container handling and reducing the ships' turn-around time.

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+ Quay crane collection

Quay cranes are part of the key terminal equipment used for container movement, which means that inefficient quay crane employment could be a bottleneck for fast ship handling operations. For this reason, a terminal is obliged to be able to provide as many cranes as possible to serve a specific ship.

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+ Cargo handling process (loading/unloading)

Cargo handling encompasses all the necessary procedures for the loading/unloading of the cargo onto/from the vessel. This type of activity involves mainly the coordination of two production factors, namely stevedores and cranes.

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+ Quay-to-storage-area transfer and storage

Unloaded cargo is transferred by specific equipment and stored temporarily at designated location within the terminal, in order to account for the differences in arrival times of the sea and land carriers.

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+ Container Freight Station operations

All operations within a facility where freight shipments are consolidated or de-consolidated and staged between transport legs. A CFS is typically located in proximity to the port, where cargo containers are transported to and from.

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+ Empty container handling and storage

All functions related to handling of empty containers and their temporary storage in special empty-container blocks where they are stored according to the needs of the shipping lines. The empty depot is a designated area within most container terminals, besides the regular storage area.

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+ Organisation/Handling of multimodal transhipment

Within a port cargo terminal, different types of handling equipment are used to tranship containers from ships to barges, trucks and trains (and vice versa). The cargo units can be transhipped directly from one transportation mode to another, or can be stored in a storage area for a certain period before they are transferred to another mode.

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+ Containers (Ro-Ro) & Trucks (Ro-Pax vessels)

+ Ro-Ro Cargo

The Roll-on / Roll-off cargo handling refers to Ro-Ro ships designed with ramps that can be lowered to the dock, allowing for cars, buses, trucks or other vehicles to drive into the storage compartment of the ship (rather than lifted aboard).

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+ Yard planning (Ro-Ro)

The process of assigning optimal allocation of storage areas for import, export and transhipment cargo (containers, trailers, etc.). Assignment of storage location for arriving cargo is important in improving the efficiency of freight handling and reducing the ships' turn-around time.

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+ Temporary parking of unaccompanied cargo

Processes and facilities related to parking of unaccompanied cargo for a short time period before transferred to another transport mode.


+ Organization & handling of combined rail transport

Specific procedures aiming at achieving best performance of combined sea-to-rail transport, including process organisation, technology, capacity management, handling procedures, etc.


+ Stowage planning

Process of optimizing the assignment of container storage locations in the bay of the ship.

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+ Logistics planning

Assignment and coordination of the operations of the container handling equipment, such as gantry cranes, transfer cranes and yard tractors, in the transportation of containers between the ship’s bay and the container yard.

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+ Waterside Transhipment Process

The quayside operations or container transhipment as well as the container movement to and from the wharf.

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+ Hazardous goods handling & storage

All functions related to dangerous cargoes transported by ships and usually unloaded and temporarily kept in special warehouses for intermediate storage and further transport. Specific procedures which prevent uncontrolled reactions through engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and special administrative controls are required.

+ Dry bulk handling & storage

All functions related to handling and storage of dry bulk (e.g. coffee beans, sugar, salt, etc.) in the terminal, e.g. loading/unloading and storage conditions, specific operational and safety-related precautions, etc.

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+ Liquid bulk terminal operations

All functions related to handling and storage of liquid bulk in the terminal, e.g. loading/unloading & storage conditions, specific operational and safety-related precautions, etc.


+ Chemicals handling & storage

All functions related to chemical products transported by ships, unloaded and temporarily kept in special warehouses for intermediate storage and further transport.

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+ Administrative & Logistics Procedures

+ Customs procedures

Customs is the section of a port where cargo and passenger luggage are checked for contraband and for goods subject to duty. Procedures related to the customs services include cargo clearance, customs transit, exportation and importation of goods, etc.

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+ Administration processes

Processes related to the management of the daily affairs of the port (e.g. invoicing, database operations, system statistics, back-ups, etc.)

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+ Port safety and security - Coastguard obligations

Processes and/or measures, normally within Coastguard obligations, which aim to prevent or detect an event or action that would threaten the security of the port, the passengers or the flow of cargo (e.g. ISPS)

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+ Data exchange with other ports (SafeSeaNet)

All manual and electronic methods of sending/receiving data to/from other ports. For example SafeSeaNet is a vessel traffic monitoring and information system among European Union Member States, Norway and Iceland, enabling them to provide and receive information on ships, ship movements, and hazardous cargoes.

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+ Environmental Protection Related Procedures

+ Ballast water management

Ballast waste management means mechanical, physical, chemical and biological process, either singularly or in combination, to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharges of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments.

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+ Bilge waste management

Management of water accumulating in the ship's bilge, which originates from condensate on the ship's hull, spilled solvents or fuels/oil, seawater leaked from heat exchangers, a combination of liquids leaked from machinery/equipment. This accumulated mixture of liquids ("bilge water") remains stored in the bilge until it becomes full and must be emptied. This process varies slightly from port to port depending on the resources available.

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+ Solid waste management

Solid waste management is a complex process involving various technologies and disciplines related to the generation (including source reduction), collection and transportation, on-site handling and storage, processing and disposal of solid wastes in line with existing legal, social, and environmental guidelines.

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+ Scrap recycling

Process of collecting and reprocessing waste material or used articles, especially metal, mainly generated through the vessels deconstruction.

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+ Greenfields

All actions related to previously undeveloped sites for their commercial development or exploitation in the most sustainable way for port operations.

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+ Port Infrastructure Related Procedures

+ Construction activities

Activities related to the process or act of building new constructions, e.g. warehouses, harbour piers, container stations, etc.

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+ Fencing & security installation & equipment

All structures used in the perimeter of the port or to divide two port areas with different access rights and the related equipment that assures the level of risk is deemed acceptable and the security guidelines are properly applied.

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+ Dredging

Process of removing unwanted things and accumulated sediment from the bottom of the port basin or navigation channel using special vessels in order to maintain the minimum level of water depth.

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+ Vessel Inspection & Maintenance Operations

+ Underwater inspection and cleaning of vessels

The activities of inspecting, carefully viewing and cleaning the vessel's hull under the water with the aim to timely identify possible damages or unwanted items.

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+ Vessel repairs

All activities or operations related to repairing a vessel within the port premises.

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