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Empty truck trips problem at container terminals: A review of causes, benefits, constraints and solution approaches

Samsul Islam (Department of Information Systems and Operations Management, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 3 April 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore, through a synthesis of the literature, the causes, benefits, constraints and ways for reducing the number of empty trips made by container trucks. Reduced empty truck trips contribute to sustainable transportation practices in the port territory.


To contribute in the current body of the literature, through a comprehensive synthesis of the studies, this study examines many perspectives surrounding the empty truck trips at container terminals. Hence different, but relevant operational aspects of empty truck trips are explored. This study adopts a content analysis as the research methodology.


Different perspectives, which are drawn from the reviewed literature, identify a research gap in published research in the area of transport collaboration (of supply chain collaboration) and coordination problems in hinterland transport chains (of maritime logistics), and the literature relating to backhauling (of vehicle routing problems with backhauls). To cover that research gap in the literature, this study attempts to highlight and synthesize the important empty-trips studies currently available into a coherent and understandable form.

Practical implications

As an integral part of encouraging collaboration in the container transportation industry, this research may be effective in persuading port authorities to evaluate and to help transport managers to reply to specific enquiries of truck-sharing arrangements.

Social implications

The utilization of available empty space of container trucks is a feasible option of increasing transport capacity and achieving sustainable transportation benefits.


This paper provides a contemporary lens to view the relationship between empty trips and their applications in the carrier industry, in order to resolve the perceived issues of non-sustainable transportation and their implications for the society.



Islam, S. (2017), "Empty truck trips problem at container terminals: A review of causes, benefits, constraints and solution approaches", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 248-274.



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