HONG KONG global terminal operator Hutchison Ports has been introducing new technologies at its facilities to increase efficiency.
This comes as rapidly increasing
intra-Asia trade volumes have resulted to congestion and delays at some
ports in the region. Citing industry figures, Hutchison Ports noted that
intra-Asia container volumes are expected to rise from 31 million TEU
this year to 34 million TEU in 2020.
Noting the complex and fast-moving nature of the intra-Asia trade, head
of research and analysis Helen Li said these included high service
frequency, requirements for quick vessel turnaround time, transshipment
connectivity requirements and late instructions or last-minute changes.
"Because of the nature of the intra-Asia trade, the requirements it
places on ports and terminals is the need for flexibility and
efficiency. This creates challenges to terminal operations in yard
shuffling needs, as well as transshipment and operational complexity,"
Ms Li said, reported Colchester’s Seatrade Maritime News.
Although equipment issues have been blamed for the congestion and
delays, with the lack of availability of quay cranes at many smaller
Asian ports seen as reducing the number of moves per hour, part of the
problem can also be attributed to the characteristics of smaller vessels
which also restricts the number of cranes that can be deployed.
"The smaller vessel sizes and shorter vessel lengths of intra-Asia
vessels (approximately 1,500 TEU) makes it more difficult for terminals
to achieve higher productivity because operators would not be able to
deploy as many cranes to service these smaller vessels," said Ms Li.
To mitigate the time shipping lines lose to delays caused by congestion,
bad weather and the knock-on effect of extended waiting time on other
Asian ports, Hutchison Ports works closely with carriers towards
improvement in operations planning, handling efficiency and fine-tuning
the capabilities required to cater to the needs of customers.
"Our terminals co-ordinate with shipping line customers to make
adjustments to the berth plan to spread out the workload as much as
possible. We will alert shipping lines in advance to changes in our
berthing situation so that they can make the required adjustments to
their sailing schedules and port calls accordingly," said Ms Li.
In addition, investments have been made in the latest equipment such as
at Hutchison Ports Thailand's Laem Chabang Terminal D, which has become
the world's first port facility to operate both remote-control quay
cranes and rubber-tired gantry cranes.