SEZ Redefines Indian Ports: Achieving Operational Excellence and Strategic Expansion

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has achieved a remarkable feat, handling a record-breaking 420 million metric tons of cargo in the fiscal year ending on March 31.

This milestone marks a significant acceleration, with the fourth 100 million-tonne milestone reached in less than two years. SEZ, India’s largest private port operator, reported a 24 percent year-on-year increase in cargo handling, encompassing both domestic and international ports, officials said. 

SEZ’s domestic ports handled over 408 million tons of cargo in the fiscal year, they said, adding that the company was changing the face of seaports and setting new milestones for operational excellence along the way. 

Mundra, the first port of SEZ, welcomed its maiden ship in 1998. Since then, SEZ’s expansion journey has been characterized by strategic acquisitions across India’s coastlines. Notably, the company has identified and built a network of 15 ports and terminals on the east and west coasts of India to enhance its operational footprint. 

Examples include Dhamra Port in Odisha and Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh. These acquisitions have been accompanied by substantial improvements in infrastructure and operational efficiency.

Dhamra Port, for instance, has witnessed a three-fold increase in cargo handling capacity, from 14 million metric tons to over 42 million metric tons, within a decade,officials informed. 

Back in 2014, the port had two berths. Now, it has five. A single railway line was earlier used for the transportation of cargo; now, another line is being laid to connect it to the national railway network. “Simultaneous infrastructure has been created to strengthen the road network,” said an SEZ official. 

The deep draft port, SEZ’s first on the east coast, can accommodate capesize vessels and cater to industries in Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.

Similarly, Krishnapatnam Port has experienced a 17 percent increase in cargo handling capacity over the past three years. 

SEZ has implemented rigorous systems and infrastructure upgrades to optimize port operations, streamline logistics, and enhance connectivity.

acquired by SEZ in 2020, the port is equipped to handle large vessels and offers multimodal connectivity through road and railway lines. The electrification of cranes has been one of the major upgrades at the facility. 

Its current capacity is 75 million tons, a significant increase from 64 million tons four years ago, officials said. 

Apart from world-class infrastructure and dedicated storage facilities, it has mechanized cargo handling systems, which increase operational efficiency and reduce turnaround time. 

“Mechanization to facilitate loading and unloading of cargo through rakes, conveyer systems that ensure efficient movement of cargo from vessels, and digitization of processes reduce turnaround time at our ports. They drive competitiveness, enhance capacity, and increase efficiency. And this has positioned SEZ as a preferred partner for shipping lines and cargo companies,” the official said. 

Karaikal Port in Puducherry is in the vicinity of power plants and cement factories. Since it was taken over by SEZ in 2023, it has seen a significant turnaround in cargo volume. In FY23, it handled nearly 10 million tons of cargo; in FY24, the number went up to 13 million tons. 

SEZ’s commitment to innovation is evident in its emphasis on mechanization, digitization, and electrification of port facilities. These advancements not only improve operational efficiency but also position SEZ as a preferred partner for shipping lines and cargo companies. 

Moreover, SEZ’s customer-centric approach and focus on upskilling manpower underscore its dedication to excellence in maritime trade.

“SEZ’s journey shows how it has strived for operational excellence. By leveraging operational capabilities and a commitment to excellence, it has transformed ports and set new benchmarks for efficiency and productivity. As it continues its quest for growth and innovation, SEZ remains poised to shape the future of India’s maritime infrastructure and contribute to the nation’s economic development and prosperity,” said the official. 

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