Major Commercial Actors in Freight Distribution

Transport SectorFunction
Maritime shipping companiesControl long distance segments of the global freight distribution linking major markets. Highly capital intensive industry. Decide of their network configuration (ports of call and routing).
Global port terminal operatorsControl important intermodal infrastructures (terminals) within the world’s largest container ports. Have strong linkages with maritime shipping companies.
Port authoritiesManage and plan port infrastructures. Tend to lease terminal operations. Important intermediaries for regional distribution (hinterland).
Maritime lock and canal operatorsOperate strategic passages in global and national distribution (e.g. the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal or the St. Lawrence Seaway).
Real estate promotersDevelop logistics zones (build to lease, build to suit), often in coordination with terminal operators (rail and port) or port authorities. Manage a real estate portfolio of distribution centers (leases).
Rail and rail terminal operatorsStrategic inland freight carriers transporting a wide array of raw materials and commodities. Responsible for many of the transshipments between rail and road, particularly for containerized freight.
Trucking industryControl vast and diverse assets that include critical segments of freight distribution in all economic sectors. Short and medium haul transport.
Third party logistics providersImportant managerial and organizational skills within supply chains. Often act as brokers between transport customers and service providers. Some own and operate transport assets.
Air freight transport companies and air freight terminalsImportant assets for the rapid distribution of high value added freight. Decide of their network configuration (airports serviced).
Freight forwardersPerform tasks such as packaging, labeling and the consolidation of shipments on behalf of their customers. Operate distribution centers. Define how markets are serviced. Can subcontract to third party providers.