Performance measurement and benchmarking for dry bulk terminals



Richard Peckham, Executive Director, International Dry Bulk Terminals Group, Brighton, UK


Capacity pressures

In the dry bulk sector burgeoning raw materials demand, especially from China, has contributed significantly to issues such as port congestion and record-high freight rates. Against this background terminal operators face pressure to handle volumes more rapidly through existing installations and/or to expand facilities to meet the requirements of the trade.

In many cases substantial growth in trade will require major expansion of handling facilities and it is clear that a prerequisite to any capital investment should be a full understanding of the constraints and capabilities of existing installations. Here, accurate performance measurement is essential and, as evidenced in other sectors, the comparison of individual performance against a general industry standard (or benchmark) can be instructive and invaluable. With this in mind the International Dry Bulk Terminals Group (DBTG) established a Working Group earlier this year to consider the desirability and feasibility of creating a terminal performance benchmarking scheme.

The Working Group’s report was discussed at DBTG’s recent annual meeting (Amsterdam, end-September) and a number of member terminals will participate in the phased, early development of the scheme outlined below.

Performance measurement

As a result of the pressures prevailing in the dry bulk chain, many terminal operators are assessing the capacity of their installations to determine the potential for enhancing performance of existing facilities and/or the need for major capital investment and expansion.

To ensure an accurate basis for strategic planning it is necessary to evaluate all elements of operation and it is comparatively straightforward to compare performance against ‘in-house’ targets. As evidenced in the container industry for example, it is valuable to compare own performance against recognised external
standards; a general industry benchmark. Hence the DBTG initiative in a global industry that is characterised by its fragmentation.

Looking at the basic requirements for a perfor mance measurement and benchmarking scheme the DBTG Working Group recognises that each terminal has its own specific reliability and operational factors. At the same time each terminal should be able to analyse its ability to meet its contractual liabilities. Here factors such as berthing delays, equipment reliability, quality and training of management and staff, planning and scheduling, inventory constraints and control and so on all impact
upon basic operational indicators including vessel turnaround time, loading and discharge rates etc.


During presentations and discussions at DBTG meetings it has been demonstrated that while members maintain a wide range of bespoke performance measurement schemes there is significant interest in comparing own performance against an external benchmark.

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