TOC CSC ASIA discusses what mega-vessels and mega-volumes mean for maritime terminal operators

Monday, 12 May 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The 18th TOC Container Supply Chain Asia conference, took place from 8-9 April at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, as part of Singapore Maritime Week (SMW), running from 6-11 April. The TOC Container Supply Chain Asia discussed the impact of ultra-large volumes of containers on maritime terminal operations and performance, TOC Events’ said. Convened under the theme Asia’s Changing Role in the Global Trade Economy, TOC CSC Asia 2014 once again provided a macro-to-micro perspective on global and regional container supply chains and trade, bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to explore current challenges and solutions. In a new format designed to promote peer group networking and knowledge exchange, the 2014 event incorporated two concurrent debating forums: Firstly the Container Supply Chain (CSC) Conference which is an executive-level discussion forum focused on international trade, container shipping, port development and logistics and TECH TOC Conference which is aimed at operational executives and focuses on the practicalities of port and terminal performance, with in-depth debates on facility design, automation, operations, equipment and technology from berth to gate. Regional leaders enlightened the participants with views and challengers the terminal industry will face in the coming decades. The experts discussed how terminals can anticipate and manage this dramatic impact on their day-to-day operations. Among the discussions the following were highlighted. A combination of dramatic vessel upsizing and new alliance strategies such as P6 and G3 has been the way for the global container shipping industry to return to sustainable profitability by making deep cuts to operating costs and achieving greater economies of scale. While this is hailed and might be good news for carriers, does the same hold true for the container terminal sector? On the operational side the concentration of large container volumes into a single weekly call will put a significant strain on the capacity of a maritime terminal to work the ship, both on the quay and landside. For terminals handling origin and destination cargo, the container surge will also take a big toll on gate operations. Truck drivers delivering and picking up containers might well have to contend with increased gate congestion and turn times stretching to hours. With truck and rail carriers faced with handling twice or the volume of cargo from one vessel, it is also far from clear whether hinterland logistics infrastructure beyond the gate is up to the challenge of efficiently moving larger volumes of boxes at any one time. In this climate, container terminal productivity has never been more important. While terminals can, and do, invest billions of dollars in technology solutions to raise productivity, is this enough? Are existing operational norms, such as employee shift structures and established logistics processes, sufficiently flexible or creative to cope with the coming tidal wave of containers that the lines will deliver in a single call? In a session on 9 April entitled ‘The Need for Speed – Terminal Productivity & Supply Chain Performance’, speakers discussed the implications for ports and their customers and debated how operators can survive these evolving demands. The session was moderated by terminal and marine operations veteran Andy Lane, formerly with Maersk Line and APM Terminals and now Partner in CTI Consultancy, the debate featured contributions from across the container supply chain, including: Rohan Nevrekar, General Manager, Liner Procurement & Operations for ocean carrier MOL (Asia); Curtis Foltz, Executive Director at Georgia Ports Authority, operator of the US East Coast Port of Savannah; Simon Sundboell, Group Commercial Manager of terminal operating group Gulftainer; and Rohan Masakorala, CEO at the Shippers’ Academy Colombo in Sri Lanka and immediate past Secretary General of the Asian Shippers’ Council. They examined the critically important questions surrounding the impact of mega container vessels on terminal performance. For example, how does terminal productivity in Asia compare with that of the rest of the world? How can ports help improve supply chain performance for shippers? Are carriers prepared to pay a higher price for enhanced performance? Or will they demand more for less? If not, what will be the impact on a terminal’s finances? The changing economic landscape and what will the consumer demand and manufacturing dynamics be? Other keynote speakers at the TOC Event were Tan Chong Meng, Group Chief Executive Officer of PSA International, he was joined by Mohammed Al Muallem, SVP & Managing Director, UAE Region, for DP World, who spoke on Evolving Middle East-Asia Trade Dynamics, and Pekka Lundmark, President & CEO of Konecranes, who gave an Equipment Manufacturer’s Perspective of the Terminal Operator Industry. Both conferences were supported by a common networking zone where attendees at both events gathered together for social events and joint sessions. The new format attracted strong backing, with over 280 delegates participating from 30 countries across Asia Pacific, Europe, the Americas and Africa, and key the sponsors and supporters included PSA Group, Port of Rotterdam, Abu Dhabi Terminals, Busan New Container Terminal, DP World UAE, Gulftainer and Konecranes, among others.