Ports must continually invest in infrastructure and efficient equipment to remain competitive. The largest ports in particular have made substantial upgrades to serve mega-vessels, for example triple-e vessels carrying more than 18,000 TEUs. Port container terminals have been transformed into mega-terminals capable of handling more than 3.5 million TEUs per year.
In parallel, mega-terminals have increased port resources for serving ships and enlarged their capacity to manage their hinterland transport. Mega-terminals are highly concentrated in the Far East – North Europe routes, mainly involving China, Singapore, South Korea, UAE and the Netherlands-Germany ports.In order for mega-terminals to berth 18,000 TEU vessels, quay draught must be at least 18 meters, container yards must be enlarged, and other critical infrastructure investments must be made.
The development of mega-terminals is thus directly linked to, although not only linked to, an increase in trade tonnage and the size of vessels. The economics of operating a mega-vessel requires mega-terminals to manage their resources in a way that allows immediately berthing these vessels on arrival at the harbor and minimizing their stay within the port.
These capital investments should be at the forefront of the agenda when a port is making the decision to maximize its efficiency and competitiveness. Many other operations need to be synchronized in order to optimize the length of a vessel’s port stay and minimize the costs to operators of mega-vessels.