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Shippers, carriers and ports discuss options for closer collaboration at 38th TOC CSC Europe Conference

3 July 2013, 15:44 / SeaNews / Rating: 5199

Shippers, carriers and ports discuss options for closer collaboration at 38th TOC CSC Europe Conference

Container volume growth will spur collaborative solutions between shipping lines, terminals and cargo owners

Rotterdam, 26.06.2013 – While the immediate future of the container shipping sector might be concerned with a potential general rate increase (GRI), longer term it is clear that supply chain stakeholders will have to learn how to cater for significant growth in container volumes, larger vessels, and extended and more complex supply chains.

This was the overriding message from the opening day of the 38th TOC Container Supply Chain Europe Conference taking place at the Ahoy in Rotterdam.

In a keynote presentation Emile Hoogsteden, Vice President Containers, Breakbulk & Logistics, at Port of Rotterdam, outlined how the port is investing and working with the port’s partners to cater for the coming growth in container volumes.

Connections to the hinterland are key to success, he stated. Despite the current economic downturn all projections point to substantially greater volumes of containers passing through the port over the coming decade. The challenge for the port in handling these volumes are twofold. Adding capacity is essential, and the port is making significant strides in this regard, particularly with the construction of the giant Maasvlakte II project.

But perhaps an even more significant improvement will come with changing processes such that far greater volumes of containers can be transported quickly to and from the hinterland. The aim is to double the volume of containers managed in the hinterland, as opposed to the port, to 20 million TEU by 2030.

“Port of Rotterdam wants to lift hinterland services to a higher level, both with and for the market,” he said. The hinterland needs to be more integrated into global supply chains.

One of the largest terminal operators in Port of Rotterdam is APM Terminals. Ben Vree, Europe Region CEO, explained that in 2012, global container throughput was 618 million TEU. With an annual increase of 6% through 2017 total global container throughput will reach over 830 million TEU, representing growth of over 40% between 2011 and 2017.

Against this background, liner activity is undergoing exciting changes. Most recently, it was announced that the three largest ocean carriers – Maersk Line, CMA CGM and MSC – will collaborate closely in the newly-created P3 network, with 255 vessels, 2.6 million TEU capacity and 29 strings covering three major trade lanes.

On top of this the first 18,000 TEU Triple E vessel has started sea trials. These new vessels and others in its class will “redefine the port business and place new demands on port operators”, he stated. And as ports face land and design constraints, larger container volumes must be accommodated through productivity; and productivity gains will rely on automation.

Throughout the opening of day of TOC CSC Europe it was made clear that collaboration will be key to realising genuine supply chain efficiencies and catering for substantial volume growth. Terminals and carriers need take a joint and ‘end-to-end’ approach to port operations, according to Anders Lund Kristensen, Head of North Europe Liner Operations Cluster, Maersk Line.

He said it is important to make the distinction between terminal productivity and port productivity; for example, the total time between pilot waiting, steaming in to berth and steaming out again. Pure terminal operations account for two-thirds of average end-to-end port operations, he said, but that means the one-third of the total end-to-end time in port is still significant and offers scope for efficiency improvements.

And within the terminal, he stated that berth productivity is not increasing proportionately compared with the increase in vessel size. Waiting and idle times are similar for a 2,000 TEU vessel and an 18,000 TEU vessel, hence the larger the vessel the bigger the impact on trade.

While new handling equipment and technology is important in raising productivity it is not necessary to make huge capital investments to address the issue, he continued. For example, Maersk Line has put money and resources into the combined port operation/terminal productivity challenge through its Terminal Partnering initiative to see how the line can integrate its business with that of individual terminal operators to create genuine value.

Capt. Franck J. Kayser, Vice President Network Operations, United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) focused on the co-operation between container terminals and shipping lines in ensuring that both parties’ interests are met and the necessity of sharing risk and rewards. The key point he made was that in today’s environment terminal operators have to invest large sums in equipment and berths, while lines can freely move from one terminal to the other, subject to there being more terminals offering similar services. On the other hand, productivity in terminals often fluctuates dramatically forcing lines to build in huge schedule buffers that are costly to maintain. Hence both parties lose out. New contracts and shared obligations could be ways to ensure a more cost efficient operation

TOC Container Supply Chain Europe runs from 25-27 June at the Ahoy Centre, Rotterdam. The event includes tour of Rotterdam Port terminals, high-level container supply chain conference, free-to-attend TECH TOC container port operations and technology conference, BULK Ports & Technology seminars, a major exhibition of port and terminal services, equipment and technology, and industry networking receptions.


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