The future of container depots

In the port of Rotterdam about 15 depot operators are active at 20 different locations. Together they provide nearly 1.7 million handlings per year...

Can you tell more about the container depot industry in the port of Rotterdam?
In the port of Rotterdam about 15 depot operators are active at 20 different locations. Together they provide nearly 1.7 million handlings per year. The container depots use around 120 hectares and traditionally they are engaged in cleaning, repair and storage of dry boxes.

What are the most striking developments in the container depot industry?
The container market has changed over the past five years. The empty depots, for example, have had several lean years, with the stock of containers sometimes falling to a record low. This year, we have fortunately seen an upward trend again. But perhaps the most striking development is that, despite the crisis, the number of containers transported in and out by barge in the whole empty depot sector has risen by more than fifty percent in the past seven years.

Depots focus on inland shipping and the Port of Rotterdam Authority further stimulates this by, among others, investing in inland facilities.

To what extent do depots play a role in the objectives of the Port of Rotterdam regarding accessibility and sustainability ?
Depots play a significant role when it comes to accessibility and sustainability of the port. For example, the Port of Rotterdam Authority will invest in inland facilities at UWT and Cetem/RBC. These companies commit themselves to carrying a larger share of containers by barge. The depots are also involved in Nextlogic, a project that deals with further optimizing of inland shipping in the port area. In addition, the depots are participating in a project called ‘Container Logistics Maasvlakte’, an exchange concept of containers at Maasvlakte between different container terminals and depots. We are constantly trying to improve our services in order to make the port more efficient. By involving shareholders, such as the depots, we ensure the port of Rotterdam maintains its excellent competitiveness.

What distinguishes Rotterdam with regard to empty container repositioning?
The container depots in the port are competitive and constantly working on improving their service level. For instance, by using smart IT solutions the depots managed to get the best out of their employees, equipment and available space. The intelligent services of the depots, combined with the high frequency of container liner services, ensure that Rotterdam is the main European hub for repositioning empty containers. With regard to empty container repositioning in the hinterland, our online platform “InlandLinks” has recently launched an empty depot tool. This tool displays empty containers that are available for pick up in the hinterland in order to avoid unnecessary driving back and forth of empty equipment between the hinterland and Rotterdam.

What will the future of container depots in the port of Rotterdam look like?
The port of Rotterdam foresees a solid future for the container depots, we consider depots as an essential part of the container supply chain. We expect to double the total container volume over time and this means that the need for facilities to store empty containers will grow. The depot industry will have to grow in order to meet the demand for more capacity, flexibility and efficiency. The designated location to do so, is Maasvlakte 2 whereas the expansion of the port offers room for the container depots. In the existing port area the Port of Rotterdam Authority will also seize the opportunity to further optimize space and ensure the accessibility of the entire port. In 2014, Intermodal, a leading global exhibition and conference for container transport and logistics, will be organized in Rotterdam.


Would you like to know more about this subject? Please contact:

Lida van ’t Veer
Business Manager Container Terminals
+31 (0)6 2039 9462

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