Area optimisation

The ever-growing use of land for transport, work and residential purposes has one of the biggest impacts on the environment, not just in Germany. Impermeable surfaces cannot support natural life and also increase the risk of flooding as persistent rain and downpours cannot seep into the ground. The efficient planning and use of infrastructure and suprastructure is therefore key to developing port which optimise land usage. For this reason, when developing its terminals, HHLA uses an intelligent layout which boosts space efficiency by means of automated systems, thereby considerably reducing the amount of land needed. In addition to various measures to optimise traffic flow, the expansion programme at the Container Terminal Burchardkai (CTB) also includes the construction of a storage crane system aimed at conserving land. In the final phase of construction, the handling capacity can be increased substantially on the existing areas. Overall, HHLA’s infrastructure and suprastructure planning for its container assumes increased handling capacity in line with demand on land already used for container handling.

These efficiency gains will be achieved by using several rail-mounted gantry cranes which take containers to and from the container yard. The gantry cranes can pick up and deposit containers on both sides of a container storage block. They can stack as many as five containers on top of one another and ten containers side by side. Compared to yards using to move containers, this concentration of container storage places increases capacity on the same amount of land by a factor of two. Lanes for straddle carriers between the individual containers are no longer needed and five containers can be stacked vertically instead of three.

As well as increasing storage capacity by more concentrated storage, thus optimising land usage, the expansion of quayside handling capacity is an important element for efficient use of space at the terminals. HHLA has significantly increased its quayside efficiency by means of an extensive expansion programme, including the use of state-of-the-art which can move up to four 20-foot containers simultaneously. Enhancing quay-wall productivity in this way without using additional space enables the company to handle a larger number of containers.

For its between the seaports and Eastern Europe, HHLA’s subsidiary Metrans uses wagons which have been optimised for maritime logistics. These 80-foot wagons offer the ideal combination of wagon/train length and carrying capacity because the amount of space between the containers is minimised. As a result, a block train operating a shuttle service can transport as many as 100  (TEU) – more than would be possible with comparable wagons. This high carrying capacity per train makes optimum use of the existing infrastructure at the terminals and railway sidings.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

Portal Crane (Also Called a Rail Gantry Crane or Storage Crane)

Crane units spanning their working area like a gantry, often operating on rails. Also called a storage crane when used at a block storage facility, or a rail gantry crane when used to handle rail cargo.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

Straddle Carrier (Also Called a Van Carrier or VC)

A vehicle used to transport containers at the terminals. The driver manoeuvres their straddle carrier into position above a container and lifts it up. The vehicles can stack containers up to four high.

Tandem Gantry Crane

A highly efficient container gantry crane capable of unloading or loading two 40-foot containers or four 20-foot containers in a single movement. HHLA uses gantry cranes of this kind at the Container Terminal Burchardkai.

Shuttle Train

A train which travels back and forth on one route with the same arrangement of wagons, eliminating the need for time-consuming shunting. HHLA’s rail subsidiaries operate shuttle trains between the seaports and the hub terminals (hinterland).

Standard Container

A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.