Easing Congestion: Methods for Handling Traffic



Robert Kessler, Director: Business Development: Enterprise Solutions, Oceaneering International Inc.


According to the US Federal Maritime Commission, port congestion is global and reaching critical proportions. Larger ships, stronger economies, weather-related problems, labour uncertainty and overdue upgrades/expansions to port infrastructure have all combined to generate more port congestion than ever before. At many ports, congestion has become a persistent problem, with vessels frequently forced to wait at anchor for a berth. Meanwhile, ships manouvering around anchored vessels increase the danger of collisions, and tidal currents and wave action make tightly packed ships in harbour areas vulnerable.

Terminal operators in the oil and gas industry provide one example of how the congestion problem can be tackled. They are using enterprise-class marine terminal optimisation solutions to significantly improve industrywide vessel traffichandling capabilities.


Many container terminals in the Los Angeles-San Diego area are reaching 90% utilisation, a number considered to be beyond capacity and to assure more gridlock. The problem will only worsen,
as larger vessels (of up to 14,000 TEU) contribute to increasing cargo volumes (up 4% over 2013) and longer load-unload times. Berth accessibility, yard and gate operations are stretched to their limits. Terminal operators need to accept this fact and address it.

Terminal automation has generally been slow to arrive at ports, partly due to union reluctance to give up positions to new technology. However, early successes among terminal operators in the petrochemical supply chain…

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