Analysis shows berth productivity is optimal for 4,000-14,000 TEU ships
QUAYSIDE productivity at 12 of the largest container ports in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe is optimal for vessels in the 4,000 to 14,000 TEU range, but lower for smaller vessels and those that have a higher capacity, according to data compiled by Singapore-based CTI Consultancy
The analysis of gross crane productivity covers the ports of Busan, Tanjung Pelepas, Yangshan, Ningbo, Hong Kong, Jebel Ali, Yantian, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Qingdao, Antwerp and Bremerhaven from January to June, reported IHS Media.
Gross crane productivity reached a peak average of 26.5 moves per hour for ships within the 7,000 to 10,000 TEU capacity range, before falling back to 24 moves per hour for vessels of 14,000 to 18,000 TEU.
The need for higher spreader hoists and longer trolley distances is likely the cause of the drop in performance on vessels larger than 14,000 TEU, as crane cycles take longer on ships that have 19 to 22 containers across instead of 13 to 19.
In terms of berth productivity, the sweet spot appears to be between 4,000 TEU and 14,000 TEU where vessels are more stable and better equipped but there are fewer rows of containers.
Terminal operators complain that working mega-vessels is not efficient for them, and there is little upside in cases where call sizes increase just marginally.
The introduction of new alliances by carriers undertaken in large part to defray the risk of introducing larger vessels during weak demand conditions has also impacted productivity for terminal operators by making moves and inter-terminal transfers more complex.
This can be a particular challenge for "split ports" such as Busan, where containers have to be transferred between two port basins, as well as ports with multiple terminal operators such as Hong Kong.
Analysis of JOC.com 2017 port productivity data shows global ports deal with significant swings in business depending on the day of the week.
Terminals at Zhoushan in east China, for example, handle 30 per cent of their business on Saturdays but just six per cent on Thursdays. Shanghai handles 36 per cent of its business on Sundays and Mondays.
However, no correlation was found between how busy a port is on a particular day and delays in wait times for vessels, indicating that major ports have sufficient berth length available to cover peak demand. In terms of berth productivity, it is on peak days when performance is at its best, the analysis shows.