Terminal Operating System

A Terminal Operating System, or TOS, is a key part of a supply chain and primarily aims to control the movement and storage of various types of cargo in and around a container terminal or port. The systems also enables

better use of assets, labour and equipment, plan workload, and receive up-to-date information. Terminal Operating Systems often utilize other technologies such as internet, EDI processing, mobile computers, wireless LANs and Radio-frequency identification (RFID) to efficiently monitor the flow of products in, out and around the terminal. Data is either a batch synchronization with, or a real-time wireless transmission to a central database. The database can then provide useful reports about the status of goods, locations and machines in the terminal.

The objective of a terminal operating system is to provide a set of computerized procedures to manage cargo, machines and people within the facility to enable a seamless link to efficiently and effectively manage the facility.

Terminal operating systems can be stand alone systems, managed as a service or utilize cloud technologies.

In its simplest form, the TOS can data track cargo in and out of a terminal.


A Terminal Operating System may be used to do some or all of the following functions:


Terminals requiring various types of ship transport
Container terminals using Containerization for LO-LO (lift on Lift Off) operations such as these require plans for efficiently loading and unloading Container ships docked within their Terminal.

A port using RO-RO ships require plans for efficiently loading automobiles, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers or railroad cars that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels.


Terminals that require the arrival and departure of cargo on trains such as container trains or bulk cargo.


Handle the receival and release of Cargo for transshipment from other modes of transport or storage.

Yard management

Creating Shipping list or keeping track of Warehouse levels. Tracking machine moves around the terminal.


Invoicing and providing reports for internal and external use.


Keeping track of Inventory and storing its movements.

Cargo Type

Various types of cargo can be managed dependent of terminal type. Containers, Logs, Bulk Cargo. The ability to Pick and pack containers.

External Clients

Terminals may wish to communicate with the following through their Terminal Operating System:

  • Terminal Operators
  • Freight forwarder
  • Shipping line or shipping agent
  • Container Operators
  • Port Authority
  • Customs Office

See also

Electronic data interchange

How to Choose a Terminal Operating System
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