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In cargo traffic, the process in which the goods being transported (box, package or load unit) change from one vehicle to another or from the ramp of an industrial or commercial enterprise to a vehicle is referred to as handling. If load units are transferred, this is referred to as transloading. If bales, sacks, boxes and similar packages are handled in seaports, this is referred to as general cargo handling. Bulk goods are usually transferred or decanted using technology specific to the type of goods.
In direct transshipment, the goods to be transferred or the loading unit is transferred directly from one vehicle to another. However, this requires that both vehicles and the handling equipment be in the same place. This considerably restricts the free disposition of these three system components.
With indirect transshipment, the transport goods or the load unit is unloaded from the vehicle and temporarily stored in a storage area until the vehicle is available for the connecting transport. Then the transport goods or the load unit is moved from the storage area onto the shipping vehicle. This system requires far less coordination, but a greater number of individual movements for the same basic function.