Loading and unloading

A good waterway network is obviously a prerequisite for waterborne transport. Methods of getting the cargo in and out of the ship are just as important. This is also termed transhipment. Transhipment is basically the loading and unloading of goods,  for example from a ship to the quay (local storage), from a ship to a lorry or from a large ship to a smaller ship.

The loading and unloading of goods on and off ship can be executed in various ways depending on the quay's facilities and the type of cargo. Dry bulk can be moved via a fixed hoist or crane, mobile crane, tilting pier or a (dump) conveyor belt. A lorry can dump the cargo directly into the hold of a ship from a tilting pier. A fixed hoist, crane or mobile crane (with a claw), or a pneumatic suction conveying system, can be used for the unloading of cargo. This kind of equipment is used for the unloading of light bulk such as grain.

A bobcat is also often used in the hold of a ship. This is a small bulldozer that continually pushes the load into heaps in front of the claw. The remaining bits are removed with a brush and shovel. Some inland navigation vessels have their own loading and unloading systems. This is uncommon however, because they take up a lot of room and are very heavy to have on board a ship.

Transhipment locations

Transhipment locations are very important to inland navigation. These locations enable the vessels to deliver their goods to the customer. The expansion of (regional) transhipment facilities is necessary to enable more waterborne transportation. 

Three kinds of transhipment locations can be distinguished:

Inland ports form regional industrial and logistics hubs on waterways, and form a network with seaports. Inland ports mostly tranship great quantities of bulk commodities. The Netherlands has some 400 inland ports of which 150 are used extensively. 

The Netherlands has an organization that is fully committed to its inland ports. The main objective of this organization (Dutch Association of Inland ports) is to bring the inland ports to the attention of policy makers, trade and industry and regional development organisations. For more information, please visit

Terminals are mostly used for the transhipment of containers. However, in some cases, bulk, general cargo, pallets or trailers are also transhipped from terminals. 

Sea terminals are located within the borders of a seaport area such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Ports can accommodate several terminals which serve as stations for the exclusive transhipment of containers or for containers and bulk/general cargo/pallets/trailers.

Inland terminals enable hinterland container transport in the Netherlands. As a result, more customers are able to be served and further growth of container transport is possible. The Netherlands now has around 25 inland container terminals for inland shipping, thus almost every region has a loading point for container transport.   These are linked to a European hinterland boasting 96 (inland) terminals. Germany alone, for example, has some 30 important container terminals.  

The Society of Inland Terminals (VITO) is a trade organisation that represents practically all medium and large terminals (25 in total) in the Netherlands. Together, they tranship around 1.8 million TEU on an annual basis, which is approximately   30% of the entire container transport in the Netherlands. Click here for more information. 

Transhipment centres
Practically every kind of transhipment can take place at transhipment centres such as bulk, general cargo, pallets and trailers. In some cases, containers are also transhipped. Contrary to terminals, the focus is mainly on bulk. Regional transhipment centres (ROCs) provide storage and transhipment services for local entrepreneurs.

In the Netherlands, many Regional Transhipment Centres are members of the “ROC Vereniging Nederland”. The objectives are to strengthen the economic position of the ROC, to contribute to the Netherlands’ society with regard to the environment and mobility, and to increase the awareness of the ROC.  More information can be obtained via


Career Event tijdens de vakbeurs Maritime Industry in Gorinchem
Donderdag 22 maart 2018 - Tijdens de vakbeurs Maritime Industry, die gehouden zal worden op 29, 30 en 31 mei aanstaande, in de Evenementenhal in Gorinchem, zal de derde beursdag met het Career Event wederom in het teken van de carri?remogelijkheden in de binnenvaart staan.
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