Augmenting Berth Utilisation at Ports

berth utilisation

At a time when the world’s port authorities are under intense pressure to meet growing capacity demands amid constraints, berth utilisation has come up as an answer to effective expansion strategies in order to bridge the gap between demand and capacity. In this feature, we look at the steps by which we can augment berth utilisation in Indian ports and the challenges and solutions that lie therein.

How can berth utilisation be augmented on Indian ports?

  1. Improving Quayside equipment for heightened productivity

Tamal Roy, President, Business Development and Corporate Strategy, JM Baxi Group draws a direct parallel between berth utilisation and better productivity.

“To achieve better berth-productivity, one needs to have an adequate number of quay cranes of updated technology and sizing”, he writes. “Therefore increasing/ improving quayside equipment is a critical factor in better productivity. However, often that is not enough. Bottlenecks can often appear at the yard or the gate or a rail dispatch yard. Such bottlenecks have to be removed by specific interventions. Further, use of technology to track and trace cargo flows, automation etc are often used to enhance productivity.”

“Advanced visibility of port capacity is critical for new infrastructure development by way of being able to plan ahead.”

~Tamal Roy, President, Business Development and Corporate Strategy, JM Baxi Group
  • Raising Cargo Handling Volumes

Dr Abhijit Singh, Executive Director of Indian Ports Association believes that utilisation of ports can only be increased by increasing cargo handling volumes. 

“Though increase in cargo volumes depends on lot of factors such as growth in economy, manufacturing, production, consumption etc., however cargo volumes at ports could also be increased by shifting cargo transportation from other modes to waterways or coastal shipping”, he shares.

  • Building all port-related facilities within the port vicinity

Santosh Nair, Digital Marketing Manager, Ocean Insights talks about how berth occupancy can be bolstered by having all port-related facilities built within the port vicinity.

He writes, “Berth occupancy, as we understand, is the time that a berth is utilised, divided by the total available time. For a port, it is the primary indicator of congestion. If berth occupancy is more than 70%, it is a sign of congestion leading to a decline of services, whereas berth occupancy below 50% indicates underutilisation of available resources”.

  • ETA for advanced arrangements at the port

Mr Nair also adds how the knowledge of Estimated Arrival Time (ETA) can allow authorities to make arrangements in advance.

“Knowing the ETA of incoming vessels in advance can also enable port authorities to start making arrangements to cater to the vessels even before they are at the port. This kind of visibility would allow faster clearance and improve berth occupancy at the port.”

~Santosh Nair, Digital Marketing Manager, Ocean Insights
  • Utilising existing infrastructure to the maximum potential

Rajiv Agarwal, Managing Director, Essar Ports Ltd lists down a few suggestions for improving the utilisation of the existing infrastructure.

“While new infrastructure will take time to develop, it is important that the existing berth infrastructure across Ports and Terminals is utilised to a maximum.  I believe the same can be achieved through the following:

  1. Enabling Policy Provisions
    1. Ports & Terminals to handle cargo of any customer irrespective its status being captive
    1. Facilities to handle diverse cargo irrespective of the provisions/ restrictions of license agreements
  2. Mechanisation and Upgradation of current infrastructure to increase capacity and significantly reduce turnaround time of ships
  3. Undertaking coordinated dredging programme to cater to bigger ships
  4. Digitisation of information and leveraging of technology for seamless flow of information thereby facilitating faster movement of cargo
  5. Ensuring last mile rail connectivity to Ports for facilitating faster movement of cargo
  6. Adequate berthing policy to reduce any waiting time for ships which consequently leads to cascading effects
  7. Rapid Industrialisation in the vicinity of ports for boosting port led manufacturing.”

Initiatives taken for utilisation of existing infrastructure:

Under the Maritime India Vision (MIV) 2030 recently published by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, globally benchmarked  targets have been defined to help India develop best-in-class port infrastructure. Dr Singh shares more in this regard.

“The development of Indian Ports is estimated to drive cost savings to the tune of INR 6,000-7,000 Cr per annum for EXIM clients and help unlock INR 70,000 – 75,000 Cr worth of potential revenue. MIV 2030 targets 423 MTPA of capacity addition at Major Ports for the next 10 years. A total investment cost of over INR 33,400 Cr. has been envisaged for this capacity expansion. Out of this, approximately 95% capacity expansion is likely to be planned under Public Private Partnership (PPP)/ Captive mode by Major Ports.”

~ Dr Abhijit Singh, Executive Director of Indian Ports Association

He further sheds more light on the initiatives undertaken by the Maritime Sector to improve Ease of Doing Business in the Indian maritime sector.

Dr Singh adds, “Apart from physical infrastructure, there is a strong focus on strengthening the digital infrastructure of ports. Several initiatives have been undertaken in recent times to improve Ease of Doing Business in Indian Maritime sector. For instance, The Port Community System (PCS) 1X has been operationalized in 19 port communities across 27 stakeholder types, thus enabling vessel related message exchange between ports and customs. Enterprise Business System (EBS) is under implementation at 6 Major Ports (Mumbai, Chennai, Deendayal, Paradip, V.O. Chidambaranar, and SMP Kolkata) and will be extended to other ports in the future.

Containerised bulk handling : A low capital investment option

As an emerging alternative, Containerised handling of bulk cargo is seen as an attractive option that is low on capital investment and that enables the movement of bulk cargo without providing interim bulk storage facilities at the terminal. It is deemed as a viable alternative for increasing berth utilization of container terminals.

“Containerised bulk handling is gaining traction globally as it enables the movement of bulk cargo from source to vessel and vice-versa without the need to provide interim storage facilities at the terminal”, shares Dr Singh. 

“Containerised bulk handling is an alternative technology that facilitates the movement of bulk cargo from mine to ship without the need to provide interim bulk storage facilities at the terminal.  This system offers a relatively low capital investment option to handle bulk cargo over a general cargo or container terminals for the reason that it not only offers diversification of cargo, improves asset utilisation and thereby increased revenue.” 

~Rajiv Agarwal, Managing Director, Essar Ports Ltd

This is an abridged version. To read the complete article, click here.

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