The Inland Container Depot (ICD) performs a number of services for the transport operator and for the shipper or consignee. In general, there are three sequences of activities.
The three main operational systems in the ICD are:
- container arrival,
- container storage and
- container departure
The activities that are included in each sequence depend on the direction of the container movement (inbound or outbound) and the container status – Full Container Load (FCL), (no stuffing/destuffing) required or Less than Container Load (LCL) (stuffing/destuffing require).
Claiming a consignment can be a relatively time consuming process that involves cross-border formalities, destuffing, etc. In clearing the containers quickly through the port terminal, the port terminal activities are roughly restricted to ship to shore transfer, positioning in the yard for pickup, Customs detention if warranted, and so on. In essence, time consuming activities like destuffing, duty payments, cargo storage, container storage are deferred to another location outside the port.
At the completion of processing at the container depots, the cargoes will be claimed by the owners and generally distributed as breakbulk to their respective sites.
In the case of breakbulk cargo where both the ICD and the cargo owner are located far away from the port, the linehaul portion of the voyage can be undertaken using containers instead of breakbulk vehicles whereby breakbulk transport is much less efficient than containerized transport. (generally 3 breakbulk shipments by truck is equivalent to one container shipment by truck) Transport costs can be reduced by keeping the goods in containers vis-à-vis breakbulk transport for as much of the linehaul component as possible. Furthermore cargo owners are not required to send agents to the port in order to clear the goods, rather document and cargo clearance can be undertaken at the ICD saving the cargo owner’s time and money.
The activities that are undertaken in an ICD ultimately depend on the type of cargo (breakbulk versus containerized), mode of transport (road, rail, inland waterway), and type of shipment (foreign or domestic). Certainly the movement of containers around the ICD will require the use of handling equipment, and storage whether in a container yard or Container Freight Station (CFS). In addition, shipments that require stuffing or de-stuffing services (breakbulk movements) will be processed via the CFS. Likewise, foreign shipments that require customs clearance will also be routed via the CFS.
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