Hamburg welcomes transhipments by feeder ships

Published: Thursday, December 8, 2022

HAMBURG, GERMANY—Feeder ships can now be strategically used for container transfers between the major terminals in the Port of Hamburg, reducing road congestion in this busy port city in Germany.

The idea was a joint collaboration between Danish shipping company Unifeeder, the initiator, Hamburg software specialist DAKOSY and DIHLA DAKOSY Interessengemeinschaft Hamburger Linienagenten (DIHLA). Collectively, they have created a digital process that also covers customs handling. 

The companies said the move will reduce the number of truck journeys between the terminals, shorter waiting times at the terminals and a related decrease in CO2 emissions.

Every day in the Port of Hamburg, container transhipments (transfers of containers between large container ships and feeder vessels) which are not loaded at the same terminal happen on a huge scale. In total, the Port of Hamburg had approximately 3.3 million TEU of transhipments in 2021, although not every transfer result in a transhipment. “Ship-based transhipments can take several thousand containers off the road each year. Every container we can move via waterway means a reduction in C02,” DIHLA Managing Director Alexander Geisler pointed out.

Florian Pein, Area Director West and Central Europe at Unifeeder, noted their company get up to 85 terminal calls per week in Hamburg and the measure is a big help to maximize their resources while benefiting customers and in the face of truck driver shortage in the country.

“Looking further ahead, Unifeeder is endeavoring to switch 50 percent of its transhipment operations from trucks to feeder carriers,” said Pein. “We have been feeling the effects of the declining number of young truck drivers for years. This is increasingly leading to a serious lack of transhipment resources and leads to long waiting times in the Port of Hamburg.”

“The application is also of interest to other feeder carriers and can be used by them starting in November,” emphasizes DAKOSY project manager Franz Schwanke. “The module has already proven itself in live testing. During the three-month pilot phase, Unifeeder transferred about 50 containers per month.”