Port of Liverpool braces for increased volumes

Peel Port put Liverpool at centre of new supply chain

The Port of Liverpool will increase capacity and open its gates around the clock until at least Christmas 2021 to meet long-term demand growth and clear the backlog caused by the recent IT outage.

Last week, the Port suffered increased congestion as ships were left stuck at anchor due to understaffing and its IT system crashing.

Consequently, containers were reportedly delayed for several hours, which caused a knock-on effect across the UK supply chain.

Speaking to PTI, David Huck, Managing Director – Group Ports, Peel Ports, said demand had put pressure on the Port’s infrastructure and workforce and it has taken steps to prepare it for greater volume numbers.

“We have provided additional resources to work through the backlog caused by these delays which have now been significantly reduced and service levels are now stable,” Huck said.

“In further response to growth and demand, we are also introducing measures that will strengthen our ongoing capacity.”

According to Huck, new operators who are about to finish their skilled training will allow it to stay open for longer and process more cargo. These will be in addition to the 150 employees the Port took on at the end of 2020.

The Port will be open 24/7 for the majority of 2021 as of June, which will make it “more accessible over evenings and weekends” and let customers take advantage of the extra capacity and resources.

As well as the increased demand and IT outage, Huck attributed the congestion to “a combination of factors” including the “unexpected high stack density” which affected turnaround times.

“We understand that any issues with the smooth running of ports are frustrating for customers and that ports and supply chains are under increased pressures following increased demand and the impact of external factors.”

Congestion has been a big problem for ports globally in 2021, with many high-profile problems arising on the US West Coast and more recently in the Port of Yantian, China’s biggest export gateway, a result of the pandemic-induced boom in e-commerce.

In some regions this has encouraged port expansion and technological innovation, and also hubs to rethink about their place on the global supply chain.

The capacity upgrade is the latest initiative from Peel Ports to improve container handling operations at the Port of Liverpool. In January 2021, Peel Ports told PTI that it was investing in the Port to build a more resilient UK supply chain and make the maritime industry less reliant on gateways in the South.

In May 2021, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) announced plans to build a new transport yard to support its expansion plans at the Port of Liverpool.

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