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International Forwarding Association Blog » Intermodal transport in Europe » Types of Storage Facilities for Transfer and Distribution

Types of Storage Facilities for Transfer and Distribution

There are different types of warehousing facilities for storage and distribution, including transload or bulk terminals, cross-docking facilities, distribution centers, warehouses, and sortation centers.

Transload Terminals

Transload terminals operate as distribution facilities for bulk products such as petroleum, grain, and lumber. The goal is to transport commodities between different types of carrying equipment. Transload facilities are equipped with cranes to lift and move and load and unload ships and railroad cars. Conveyors, loaders, car dumpers, cranes, and other types of equipment are used.

Intermodal Terminals

Intermodal terminals are used to transport air and marine containers and truck trailers between different modes of transportation, including air, road, rail, and sea. These intermodal logistics facilities operate to transfer goods between inland and sea transport, including short sea shipping and inland ferries. Intermodal terminals usually feature parking tracks, driving and loading lanes, transshipment or handling tracks, and gates or check-in/-out areas. Many facilities have 2 – 3 buffer or interim storage lanes and rail-mounted gantry cranes. They offer multiple services such as container repair, trucking service, storage of hazardous goods, and storage of temperature-controlled products. They also offer terminal handling services such as security check and check-in/-out and transshipment of loading units.



Port Facilities

Ports operate as hubs for export and import of goods by water and air and are managed by businesses and quasi-public and public organizations. Ports often have hangers or berths for aircraft or ships as well as warehousing facilities and terminals for management and storage of commodities. There are specialized ports for different types of commodities such as automobiles, bulk products, petroleum, and containers. Ports fall in two categories – inland ports and foreign trade zones.

Integrated Logistics Centers

These are basically industrial parks that feature hub or intermodal terminals and offer multiple services related to distribution and transportation. Integrated logistics facilities have different functions, including distribution, manufacturing, and light assembly. Supporting services are also offered.

City Terminals

The main functions of city terminals include delivery and pickup and consolidation of loads and intramodal sorting. Depending on function and location, they can be used for transfers of railcars between intercity road and local trains or between air containers and city vehicles. City terminals also offer different services to bulk truck fleets, including maintenance and cleaning of equipment and customer service. Other services offered by city terminals include load and goods storage, driver services, and equipment storage. Usually storage is offered for a limited amount of commodities. Some facilities function as intermodal terminals while others operate as mini-hubs for loads that are moved between major hubs and terminals in small towns.

Other types of warehousing facilities include e-fulfillment centers, urban logistics depots, cold storage facilities, and multitenant facilities. By function, freight facilities can be divided into fabrication, distribution, and storage. Some have more than one function. Heavy manufacturing facilities, for example, are mainly used for fabrication and distribution while urban logistics depots are used for distribution and storage.