Port is a transport chain hub that connects land and maritime transport. Port has a number of operators, which together affect the functioning of a port.

Introduction: Introductory presentation of this section (Google Slides).

Aerial photograph of Vuosaari port of Helsinki
Port of Helsinki, Vuosaari

Finland functions through its ports

Ports are businesses. On the Finnish mainland, there are 24 organisations which run commercial public ports. Of these, twenty are owned and run by local authorities, while the remaining four are privately owned. Commercial ports have operated as corporate limited liability companies since 2015. Finland also has several industrial ports, and some municipal port facilities.

The port authorities in Finland invest around 100-120 million euros every year in the development of port areas, waterways and harbour basins, real estate and equipment.

Ports are central to the Finnish economy and a life that works for everyone. For the security of supplies, they are essential. Finland’s economy is reliant on exportation, and the majority of exports (90%), as well as a large proportion of imports (70%) travel through our ports. Consequently, ports play a vital part in growing the economy, and in ensuring every-day life runs smooth. Our ports are especially important forthe security of supplies.

The passenger ferries are important feature of the Finnish waterborne transports system. The same ferries that transport passengers, also carry a considerable amount of Finland’s freight, both import and export. The ferry connections are particularly good with Sweden and Estonia.

Ports are part of the transport chain

The state is responsible for the development of waterways, while the port authority is responsible for their own area. Ports are also home to service providers such as companies providing goods handling and passenger services. Several authorities and organisations providing public services also collaborate with ports. The port authority directs business using Port By-laws.

Ports are functional entities. Activities vital to ports can be grouped in four categories.

  1. Port management and operation: the port authority, stevedoring companies, terminal operators for cargo and passenger transport.
  2. Services: e.g. navigational aid, ice-breaking, maintenance and repairs, supply of fuel, waste disposal.
  3. Customers: shippers and buyers, shipping companies, transport companies, passengers.
  4. Authorities: transport, health and safety, rescue services, Police, Customs.

Many ports, many strategies

Today an increasing number of ports are developing and broadening their business perspectives, for example facilitating industries to settle at the port, facilitating the supply of alternative fuels for maritime and cargo transport. They may also provide temporary storage for their industrial customers. It is possible for ports to offer and run services to their customers that don’t have to be based at the port itself.

Cruises are an industry itself. An increasing number of international cruise ships have been calling Finland every year, at an increasing number of ports.

The digitalisation of transport and logistics brings many new opportunities to the ports. For example, transport chains can be streamlined and optimised, cargo loading rates be increased, half-empty loads can be combined, all of which help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On the waterborne side intelligent fairways provide situational awareness on the movement of ships and the current weather situation. This, and the advance of remote steering are part of the future that is already being considered when developing the infrastructure.

Ports and the environment

Ports affect the environment through the building of waterways, emissions from both land and sea transport, and waste disposal. In Finland the daily operation of ports with international traffic requires an environmental permit, whereby the environmental effects of port activity and transport are checked regularly. All ports need permit to improve the waterways and -works in the port area. Port authorities consider it important that the development of all port infrastructure will meet long-term transport needs while using resources efficiently.

Ports and the cities around them grow together. Regular contact with stakeholders helps both parties to consider the needs of the others and develop alongside each other.

Ports and the safety

The transport chain serves as a store for commercial and industrial supplies. If the flow of the transport chain breaks, it’s quickly visible in everyday life. Port authorities are responsible for fluent traffic in port areas. This means ensuring health and safety requirements are met, as well as having safe routes for ships, road and rail traffic, and employees and passengers. Also cyber security is vital as technology is used widely in ports. Port companies coordinate safety procedures needed to combat possible threats and accidents and ensure cooperation between the different companies working in the port area. Safety and security issues and procedures is regularly coordinated with the authorities.

Port authors and operators

Port authority manages port. They are often municipal enterprises or joint-stock companies owned by local authorities. Port authority’s task is to build efficient infrastructure ​​(e.g. docks, storage areas, data communications, roads and railways), which creates good conditions for providing its customers high-quality logistics services.

Port authority charges port operators a number of different types of payments such as the port charges, passenger fees, freight charges, removal of vessels and mooring fees, water fees and sewage fees, piloting fees, storage fees and rentals.

Port operator is a logistics operator specialized in stevedoring operations. Port operator’s tasks include loading goods and transport units and mooring to vessels or other means of transport, unloading ships or other means of transport as well as other forms of cargo handling inside the port area.

In addition, shipping and land transport companies also operate in the port. Other operators in the port include maritime and environmental authorities, border patrol and police, piloting and icebreaking service providers as well as ship food suppliers, fuel, maintenance and towing service providers.

In the port is also a large number of maintenance and repair companies and in the container port is one or more of the so-called container depot, which receives and maintains containers arriving at the port, informs their location and condition to the container owner and repairs as needed.