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Empty Container Repositioning

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Author(s): Professor Rob Zuidwijk, Rotterdam School of Management, and Professor Bart Wiegmans, Delft University of Technology

The global distribution of goods involving maritime transport makes use of standardized loading units, which are also known as maritime containers, progressively. It is not uncommon to use these containers beyond the transport between seaports, i.e. the goods are transported in containers from origin to destination in the hinterland, e.g. from supplier factory to buyer distribution centre.

Containers are of various sizes and are often re-used several times in the supply chain. This requires a container, once unloaded and emptied, to be re-positioned to another location in the hinterland, where it is loaded with new cargo for its next voyage. The repositioning of empty containers is a complex management and logistics problem, which involves multiple organizations. In this technical paper, we touch upon a few of these intricacies and suggest directions for further exploration to resolve the issues at hand.

Deep sea liners make use of containers to provide efficient transportation services…

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