Assessing the potential of a dry bulk terminal

Dry bulk terminals play a vital role in the chain of transportation linking producers with end users. Their efficiency is influenced by a range of internal and external factors, not least initial design. Evaluation of a newly built or existing facility’s performance by independent experts with hands-on terminal management experience frequently results in enhanced operational efficiency.

Terminals play an essential role in the logistical chain. They determine the efficiency and thus the cost of the chain. They are the buffer, the safety valve. If a terminal is not performing well, it has exponential consequences. In most cases this is reflected by the demurrage generated at that specific terminal. The productivity of bulk terminals is determined by the infrastructure, movable equipment available and the organization. If put into practise by well-trained operators following the right procedures, and backed by a management team able to find the right balance between internal and external factors, it can be successful. Planning is the main issue, and often the biggest challenge. The planning process comprises ships planning, storage and inland distribution. For bigger terminals these elements are organised in separate departments whereby communication among each other is of prime importance.

The better a terminal is able to control the interfaces between sea going vessels, trains, barges and connecting belts and the terminal operation itself , the better its design capacity will be met. Demurrage and throughputs below design level are the main indicators that a terminal is not performing well. Poor financial results and delayed maintenance will further deteriorate the performance leading to the risk of a downward spiral.

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Dick van Doorn and Jose de Martino, founders of the Dry Bulk Experts Group
Edition: Edition 55

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