Source: Taxonomy adapted from Sheffi, Y. (2012) Logistics Clusters: Delivering Value and Driving Growth, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Logistics clusters can be classified according to three main criteria:
- Modal orientation. Relates to the primary transportation mode to which they are accessible. In the most optimal form, this accessibility involves a co-location where the logistics zone is directly adjacent to a terminal facility. Port-centric, airport-centric, and rail-centric (e.g. inland port) zones are the main forms of co-location. An inland logistics cluster is usually connected to a port facility through a corridor, namely a rail or a barge link. Since roads are considered a rather ubiquitous transportation mode, logistics zones are rarely defined according to roads. It is assumed that they have good road access.
- Geographical scope. Relates to the general market areas being served by the logistics cluster. This ranges from global to urban supply chains (city logistics). Port and airport-centric logistics zones are usually connected to global supply chains, while rail-centric logistics zones are usually bound to a regional market. There are also logistics zones designed to mainly service urban markets.
- Function. Logistics zones can have a functional specialization with some oriented towards customs clearance as well as being foreign trade zones. It is common for logistics zones to offer a wide array of functions to widen their customer base. Others may focus on a single commodity or a sector, such as agribusiness or pharmaceuticals. The modal orientation of the logistics cluster is commonly related to its function. For instance, an airport-centric logistics zone is likely to be highly involved in customs clearance and high added-value logistics chains.
There is no formal taxonomy about how to define logistics clusters, but modal orientation tends to be the most common criteria. The great majority are labeled as logistics parks, which in their simplest form, are areas that have been zoned for the development of logistics and related activities. Often, the zoning is simply industrial (an industrial park), and logistics activities are the most prevalent, not necessarily by design but by the outcome. However, a logistics park should also have a functional relation with a terminal facility, particularly if it is to assume a geographical scope beyond the region.