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Supply Chain 4 min read

Why inland ports are the future of strong, sustainable supply chains

Why inland ports are the future of strong, sustainable supply chains

As brands work to improve global supply chains, they're rethinking space, procedures, and workforce management. They're looking inwards, to inland ports.

Despite the mess and misfortune caused by the pandemic, COVID-19 has enabled the logistics industry to take a more proactive approach to future threats, working collaboratively toward long-term and sustainable supply chain solutions.

In an attempt to build resiliency, companies are concentrating on using space more efficiently, relying on interconnectivity, working with local suppliers, refining day-to-day processes, and enhancing their workforce. These factors unite in the inland port.


Why use only sea and road, when you can use sea, road, and rail?


A recent Supply Chain Brain article by Marc Salotti points out: “The inland port is a forward-thinking model for storage and transportation of goods, serving as the next stop after the marine port, and providing multimodal connectivity for distributors."

Considering the importance of using existing space as a part of becoming sustainable, HERE360 examines other ways that investing in an inland port can help strengthen future supply lines.

Waves, road and rail

The logistics industry, more than any other sector, knows the value of being located near the main roads of any region. Having access to multimodal transportation including ocean, rail, and highways is crucial for businesses looking to move products between A and B as fast as possible.

Not to mention the possibility of being connected to a thriving B2B and B2C market which can help to foster local business partnerships.


Seaports, such as Vancouver, Canada, are getting crowded and are limited in their capacity for expansion.



Wide open spaces

Where is land most expensive and challenging to acquire? Near major urban centers.

It's essential to invest in existing, underused industrial sites which likely already have surrounding infrastructure, access to transit and transportation, and proximity to a diverse and skilled workforce.

Inland ports will also likely offer additional space for warehousing and distribution facilities.


With location-based solutions, like HERE Supply Chain, logistics brands can easily adapt to an increase in intermodal capacity and freight distribution as they benefit from using an inland port:

  • Receive real-time ETAs and incident alerts for on-the-move shipments
  • Avoid costly delays with indoor-to-outdoor asset tracking in the warehouse, yard and beyond
  • Oversee supplier patterns to maintain optimal lead times and inventory levels


Sustainability power

Re-using former industrial spaces supports global environmental initiatives and helps brands achieve sustainability targets by implementing new energy standards without using new materials.

In addition, companies choosing rail travel to and from an inland port will spend less on fuel and contribute less CO2 emissions.

A primary inland port facility in the vicinity of major centers can also supply strong digital frameworks and potential partnerships with internet and telecommunications service providers.

As companies will need to modify existing technology set-ups including the integration of asset tracking and management, it makes sense to set up near services that can help support their environmental and business needs via advanced technology.

One-stop shop

Since inland ports serve as a connector between disparate destinations, they also facilitate user relations. For example, a brand that outsources its packaging manufacturing needs to a company across the water could benefit from the packaging capabilities of a skilled inland port resident, eliminating another stop (and potential weak link) in the supply chain.

Two of the first and most prominent users of inland ports are Walmart and Home Depot who saved money by consolidating multiple distribution centers into smaller hubs.


While deciding on an inland port is a complex decision, businesses stand to benefit from consolidating their import and distribution functions in one location while gaining immediate access to a large and varied market.

Gain end-to-end to visibility on the road, at the dock, and in the warehouse with HERE Supply Chain

Jasmine Reimer

Jasmine Reimer

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