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Multimodal Transport and Logistics: Best Practices, Achieving Greater Efficiency and Challenges

Multimodal Transport had its inception in the late 1950s, when the American trucker Malcolm MacLean, introduced the first steel container, capable of transportation by sea, rail and road. Form this stage transport become multi-dimensional and general cargo packed in steel containers began to move by multimodal transport system (ie by more than two modes of transport with smooth interchange between each mode)

In the twenty first century, Multimodal Transport has become the backbone of international trade. It is vital for all trading nations to develop and foster multimodal transport system in their respective countries with the objective of reducing overall transport and handling costs to shippers and consignees.

During the last four decades containerization has made phenomenal progress. Today approximately 95 percent of worldwide general cargo movement is in containers. Containership of 12,000 TEUs are presently operating and 15,000 TEUs are on the drawing board. Much of this development has come in the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and Japan. China is racing ahead with its own development and will soon catch up with the rest of the world. The huge capital investment required for building large containerships and extensive infrastructure in ports has precluded development and progress in developing countries.

Multimodal transport has grown in tandem with containerization because of it being cost effective and more efficient than Unimodal Transport.

Multimodal transport, which provides the opportunity to manage the transport chain more effectively through the integration of all modes of transport under a single transport document, is helping countries respond to this growing demand for just-in-time door-to-door services. Aided by the revolution in information technology, multimodal transport operators in North America, Europe and a few other countries have applied the principles of logistics to manage the flow of products and information along the supply chain.

Whether seen from a legal point of view or from an operational perspective, Multimodal Transport is generally considered as the most efficient way of handling an international door to door transport operation. This is so because Multimodal Transport allows to combine in one voyage the specific advantages of each mode, such as the flexibility of road haulage, the larger capacity of railways and the lower costs of water transport in the best possible fashion. Multimodal Transport also offers the shipper the possibility to rely on a single counterpart, the multimodal transport operator who is the architect of the entire journey and only responsible party from pickup to delivery, rather than having to deal with each and every modal specialist of the transport chain.

In multimodal transport, a variety of documents and information needs to be exchanged between shippers, transport companies and consignees as well as authorities, insurance companies, etc. The need for communication and amount of information naturally increases with the number of partners involved in the transport chain. The TCMS (Transport Chain Management System) system was developed to make this easier. TCMS (Transport Chain Management System) is a fully Web-based system to be used to control a door-to-door transport where several transport modes are involved. TCMS automates the exchange of information and documents needed for the organization of multimodal transport in such a way that the user has no additional effort compared to uni-modal transport. Obstacles to multimodal transport and logistics services which may exist can be grouped into (a) infrastructure and technologies, (b) security and safety, (c) facilitation, (d) legal aspects and (e) market access.

Transport logistics makes it possible to optimize flows of goods. Logistics is thus an essential tool for meeting the challenges of growing mobility and competitiveness. Logistics can optimize the conditions for the delivery of goods. It is a crucial means of making transport more efficient, while limiting the effects of pollution and congestion. Efficient logistical services should ensure a seamless flow of cargo. On average, logistics accounts for 10-15% of the final cost of finished goods


The five basic components of the Business Cycle are:


  1. Buyer
  2. Seller
  3. Bank
  4. Insurance
  5. Logistics


Logistics involves:


  1. Getting the right goods
  2. To the right place
  3. At the right time
  4. At the right cost
  5. In the right condition
  6. And with due care and attention to the environment.

Logistics commonly includes:


  1. Transport
  2. Warehousing
  3. Inventory/stock control
  4. Communications/information systems
  5. Packaging
  6. Manufacturing management.


The components of Supply Chain are:


  1. Transport
  2. Finance
  3. Human relations
  4. Information technology
  5. Safety, health and environment
  6. Education and training


Supply Chain Critical Success Factors:


  1. Capability to drive an effective supply chain
  2. Cycle time for supply chain processes
  3. Cost of products and inventory management
  4. Use of information technology
  5. People development


The use of third –party logistics provider has grown steadily since their inception in the 1980s and continues to grow. Many large organizations have either partially or fully outsourced their logistics operations. However smaller organizations have been slow to follow. Advantage of outsourcing logistics operations to a third-party logistics provider is the opportunity to focus on core competency.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of using a third-party logistics is to allow your organization to focus on its core competence, or what is does best. For example Nike Shoes is great at marketing and selling their shoes. They do not own assets to produce them, nor do they deliver the shoes to their retail locations. This allows them to focus on product development, engineering and customer satisfaction.

The absence of international rules governing the successive carriage of goods resulted in peculiar problems in the matter of carriers' responsibility and the liability for loss of or damage to the goods occurring in the course of a multimodal transport operation


Multimodal Transport Law:


1973: Commercial community created a set of MT rules under the ICC banner.

1980: Multimodal Transport Convention singed - but received little support.

1990: Commercial parties joined with UNCTAD and introduced the UNCTAD/ ICC Rules for Multimodal Transport Documents, which replaced the1973 Rules.

-         FIATA/ FBL

-     BIMCO COMBIDOC is now commonly used in commercial practice

-     Indian Law on Multimodal Transport

-     United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Draft Convention (IMMTA Working Group)

1) Supply Chain Network Design:

The design of supply chain network is critical in facilitating coordination among suppliers, manufacturers, distribution centres, and customers. This component provides tool kits for some of the following network design decisions:

a. Site location: This includes the numbers, locations, and capacities of facilities (e.g., warehouses and distribution centres) required.

b. Service planning: This includes the type of service each facility provides. For example, whether a facility should be used as a warehouse or a merge-in-transit centre; where to hold inventory and the frequency of inventory replenishment to be used, etc.


2) Multimodal Distribution Planning with Cross-docking:


Cross-docking operations are essential in multimodal distribution planning. These operations involve decisions in the coordination of the inbound and outbound flow, the repackaging of cargoes, and the dispatching of vehicles.

In a multimodal distribution environment, one of the distribution planner’s decisions is to select a set of transportation modes for each shipment in order to minimize the cost of transportation while maximizing the efficiency of delivery. The transportation modes may include:

a. Deep-Sea shipping (with vessels over 3000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU)) that serves inter-continental transportation.

b. Feeder shipping that serves regional transportation.

c. Barges that serve transportation between port and the adjacent river delta area.

d. Air transportation that includes international cargo services, couriers, and postal services.

e. Drayage and shuttle services: Drayage refers to the container transportation between terminals and consignees, while shuttle services refer to trucks between hubs and major terminals


f. Local deliveries that use small trucks and vans to do direct shipment

recall that in freezing winter of December 2003, the final decision to amend Annex I of Marpol conventions 73/78 was taken during the 50th session of MEPC on 4th December 2003 at IMO London and approved by the Assembly. The EU bloc was the driving force to enforce double hull measures and stringent safety measures as per SOLAS to entire world fleet.

The Middle East region is in the middle of exciting global, regional, and local developments in terms of multimodal transport and logistics. Middle East has unprecedented opportunities to capitalize on the unique strength of its favorable geographic location.

The hub and spoke approach becomes more favorable as cargo volumes and vessel sizes increase. Cargo from one originating point is loaded onto a vessel irrespective of cargo destination and then transported to a central “hub”. In the hub, all freight to different destination points is unloaded, segregated and consolidated, so that freight for each destination points is reloaded on each separate feeder vessels. Hub and spoke approach is the ideal logistics concept to achieve cost effective transport.

Current hubs in Europe are Rotterdam and Hamburg for sea freight and London, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt air freight. Multimodal transport concept offers a conversion from sea transport to air, road and rail transport. Such a service allows the shipper to start with cost effective sea transport and to transfer the consignment to air transport at a convenient hub. Middle East is a natural location to do the sea to air transport conversion, for three reasons:


  1. The Middle East is already the natural hub for refueling stopovers for the Merchant Ships.
  2. The region is easily accessible by sea and is increasingly becoming a hub of the sea freight industry.
  3. Transshipment if done in the Middle East, achieves attractive reductions in transport time (approximately five to seven days) while still conserving the cost effective sea transport rates for half of the total transport.


Strong and sophisticated multimodal transport and logistics sector will be essential for the future economic development of countries in the Middle East.

Dubai has already made significant infrastructure investments in the integration of its airport and seaport. With an annual volume of more than 100, 000 tones of freight converted from sea to air, this operation proves the viability of the concept.

Its favorable geographic location provides the Middle East with a strong opportunity to establish the leading transport and logistics hubs for the region serving northern and middle Africa in the southwest, Pakistan in the east, and the Caucasian Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Excellent global accessibility based on an extensive logistics infrastructure of seaports, airports, and road networks is crucial for the establishment of such regional centers.

Availability of efficient transport and logistics services is increasingly a key criterion for direct investment, in addition to competitive cost factor and availability of skilled human resources. Development of a global multimodal hubs, are limited in number and require huge infrastructure investments. This can be seen from the current infrastructure investment budgets of Singapore, the Chinese ports, and Dubai. The global multimodal transport and logistics hub strategy must be built on a preferred geographic location, and it requires huge investments in infrastructure.

The development of a global multimodal hub strategy requires a strong focus on the development of a single mega-infrastructure incorporating a world class integrated airport and port zone. Excellent connections to the neighboring regional markets, development of road infrastructure, road and port infrastructures should be focused to provide excellent connectivity to the regional hubs. The basic road, seaport, and airport infrastructure development, free zones in the inner country, close to the relevant consumption and production markets, are of significant importance.



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Dear Members
kindly note that submission of Nomination form has been extended till 9 May 2015, due to annual dinner event. Ensure that the Nomination form should reach MMSP office on or 9 May 2015.

Capt. Khawaja Wasiuddin Siddiqi Dupty Election Commissioner

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To honour
Chief Patron of MMSP and Chief of Naval Staff Who has kindly consented to be the Chief Guest on this Occasion at Convention Hall, Pakistan Maritime Museum Near Karsaz, Karachi,
on Friday, the 24 April 2015

at 2000 hrs

All members and Mariners are requested to collect their cards from MMSP Secretariat.
Ph 32418784
cell 0333-3113265
or call Capt. Nusrat Iqbal (GS-MMSP) Cell: 0300-8245399
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If, we go into time Tunnel, the era from 2003-2007, efforts were made to convert Pakistan Marine Academy to Pakistan Maritime University, so that different faculties of Maritime education may be established locally.


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Monthly Meeting :


May 14, 2015

Executive Committee Meeting of Master Mariner Society of Pakistan will be held at 17.30 Hrs. at Room No 18, Old Ralli Brothers Building, Talpur Road, Karachi.

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