In the International Transport Forum (ITF’s) recent report on the real impacts of mega-ships, they touch on port performance, illustrated through two graphs across Europe and Asia, detailing the turnaround times for various ports in both regions.
PTI previously reported that the ITF had released the report, which elaborates on how mega-ships are not only affecting ports, but also trade lanes and the wider economy.
Each of the graphs shows the ports that are currently Mega-Ship Ready in both Asia and Europe, as well as the turnaround times for each neighbouring port.
(Source: OECD / ITF)
The first graph illustrates turnaround times in Europe, with Bremerhaven, Le Havre and Felixstowe being some of the leading ports with up to one day of mega-ship turnaround times.
(Source: OECD / ITF)
The graph above shows the main ports in Asia, with many of the busiest ports, including Shanghai, Busan, and Shenzhen showing top performance levels. According to the report, the ports with the highest berth productivity (the most number of box moves per hour while a ship is at the port) were the Chinese ports of Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Xiamen in 2014.
Commenting on how ports can increase their berth productivity, Olaf Merk, Administrator for Ports and Shipping at the ITF, said: There are in essence two ways: more cranes and higher crane productivity. There obviously is a limit to the number of cranes that can be used to work a ship, depending on ship length. Crane productivity can be increased via equipment, labour and organization. In terms of modernising equipment you could think of faster cranes, multi-lifting and all kinds of other innovations.
“But this only helps if you have skilled and disciplined crane operators. And maybe most importantly, organisation: no labour time losses and coordination between yard and quay movements. Automation could also help to realise this. Finally, crane productivity is also dependent on stowage of the ship. Of course a wider set of indicators is needed to access port and terminal productivity, which includes ship waiting times, dwell time in yards and truck handling time – and train and barge, if these modes are available.”
Shanghai maintained its position as the busiest port in the world after shifting 35.29 million TEU in 2014, almost two million more compared to the previous year.
A still of the Port of Shanghai, the world's busiest port. (Source: iStock)
Despite strong performance by many of these European and Asian ports, there have been concerns that ports do not have the appropriate yard space and crane technologies to service larger ships.
There is also the concern that these mega-ships are dominating trade lanes and therefore pushing other large vessels into predominantly North-South trade routes.
Solutions have been proposed to these issues, including upgrades in crane technologies, with questions surrounding who will fund this important change.
Collaboration, vessel-stowage and supply chain management have also been suggested as a solution for increasing berth productivity.