On the evolution of maritime ports towards the Physical Internet

Patrick B.M. Fahim*, Manuel Martinez de Ubago Alvarez de Sotomayor, Jafar Rezaei, Arjan van Binsbergen, Michiel Nijdam, Lorant Tavasszy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


The Physical Internet (PI) is a novel, comprehensive and long-term vision of the future global freight transport and logistics (FTL) system, which is aimed at radically improving its efficiency and sustainability. As research on the PI concept is still young, the functioning of maritime ports in the context of the PI is still underexplored. Our aim is to contribute to the scientific debate about radically different futures for maritime ports around the world, by identifying their possible future development paths towards the PI. We construct an evolutionary port development framework that identifies the main dimensions of the PI in relation to ports, including governance, operational, and digital aspects. To design the future development paths towards the PI, we conducted a scenario analysis and used a Delphi survey amongst port development and PI experts. The resulting expectation is that a fully globally functioning of the PI may not be reached by 2040. Also, our analysis shows that global governance of FTL systems is critical for the pace of development and adoption. Building on the identified potential future development paths, we provide a discussion, relevant for port authorities and other stakeholders, as well as avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102834
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Delphi study
  • Freight transport
  • Logistics
  • Maritime ports
  • Physical Internet
  • Scenario development


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