Berth productivity trails container exchange

Containers in Sydney The number of boxes exchanged per port call is outpacing berth productivity. Image courtesy of Aaron Jacobs/ Wikimedia Commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronjacobs/3047250869/
Industry Database

Consolidation in container shipping is having a positive impact on liner network efficiency, but berth productivity at container terminals is not keeping pace with the growth in the number of boxes exchanged per call, according to new data.

JOC’s port productivity data, gathered from the world’s largest liner shipping companies, shows that the global average number of TEU containers exchanged per call increased by 9% in 2017 compared with 2016, but berth productivity growth at the world’s 30 largest ports did not keep pace with call size growth, and the limitations in terminal infrastructure were increasingly exposed.

“With ship capacity increases being driven predominantly by width and height increases, the larger ships have a significantly higher quantity of containers per bay compared with [smaller ships],” said Singapore-based container terminal operations expert Andy Lane, reported JOC.

Not enough cranes

“Whereas this can be mitigated to an extent through container distribution in the ship planning process, there are simply not enough cranes to get the optimal crane intensity on the larger ships with the larger call sizes. Contemporary crane design does not enable the simultaneous working of adjacent bays and this causes further intensity constraints,” Mr Lane added.

JOC's data shows ports in North Europe had the biggest increase in average call size in 2017 to 1,362 boxes, a 20% surge versus 2016. Southeast Asia and Latin America also had impressive average growth increases last year, to 1,220 and 890, respectively, and each was good for an 11% gain.

Lane said the gap between call size growth and productivity growth becomes increasingly dramatic when the number of containers being exchanged is larger than 4,000.

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