Hamburg Terminals: Partnership in Practice



Gerald Hirt, Managing Director, HVCC Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center, Hamburg, Germany


Two trends have defined container shipping in the past decade. To start with, bigger and bigger ships were built at an unprecedented pace. The result was systemic overcapacity, which triggered various consolidations among shipping companies. The second is that port authorities and terminal operators were faced with major challenges owing to this development.

Upgrading an existing quay wall to  accommodate the new gantry cranes, for example, requires much more time for  preparation and construction than the construction of a new 18,000-TEU ship. New requirements also came into effect on navigating estuaries, on turning circles and approach manoeuvres, lines arrangement and the condition of bollards.

It became necessary to manage the heavy operational peak times in processing megaships and in the distribution of the cargo to feeder and inland ships, trains and trucks.

Meanwhile one important element faded into the background at several ports, even though it would offer additional scope for optimisation. Namely, closer collaboration among each other, and with all involved parties. This article explains how the challenges resulting from the changing size of ships were recognised early on in Hamburg and how they have been successfully mastered using a unique model, the Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center (HVCC).

A project entitled the Feeder Logistics Center (FLC) was launched by Hamburger Hafen und Logistik (HHLA) back in 2004. The motivation behind this project was to coordinate the feeder rotation within the Port of Hamburg more effectively…

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