Costs spiral for unscheduled downtime

Felixstowe has been proactive in preparing for traffic growth Felixstowe has been proactive in preparing for traffic growth

Downtime at ports is up on last year says Trelleborg whose latest barometer report suggests that far from improving, the issue is actually getting worse. In fact, 90% of those surveyed for the report suffer from unscheduled downtime at their facility costing at least £100,000 per year.

It’s no secret that many ports are ill equipped to deal with increases in container traffic. Investment in infrastructure has generally speaking lagged behind demand leading to congestion and delays. This of course leads to an increase in demurrage costs, higher fuel costs and the readjustment of schedules.

Richard Hepworth, president marine systems, Trelleborg, said: “The increase in traffic flows and vessel sizes means that there is a need across the industry to update infrastructure in order to keep pace with change.”

But clearly this isn’t happening everywhere. The concern is that ports are simply managing the status quo rather than planning ahead to accommodate changes in the market.

Trelleborg points to the UK Port of Felixstowe as an example of proactive planning for increased capacity. “While some ports have been slow to upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate larger vessels, Felixstowe is well aware of the need to develop its capabilities”, Mr Hepworth said.

The port has shelled out on fender systems as part of a £300m reconfiguration because shipping trends have shown that the UK needs to double its present capacity to meet demand by 2025.

Implications for not proactively investing in infrastructure are perhaps even greater than just unscheduled downtime and lost revenue. It can also result in damaged relationships with shipping lines and lost confidence across the industry.

Read Trelleborg’s third Barometer Report

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