Home » Breaking News, Events, Maritime » Increased global throughput, bigger ships pose challenge to port industry

International Association of Ports and Harbors secretary general Susumu Naruse

The global port industry faces many challenges such as capacity expansion, improvement of safety and security level, and logistics and environment issues, according to International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) secretary general Susumu Naruse.

At the recent Subic Bay Maritime Conference and Exhibit, Naruse outlined trends in the global port industry, including the increase in global container throughput and the size of container ships, and how global operators play an important role in container operation, which accounts for more than 50% of container throughput in the world.

Naruse noted that based on the Drewry Annual Container Market Review, global container traffic will grow in future, but at a slower pace of 6-8% a year. This year it is expected to advance 7.2% to 600 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs); next year by 7% to 650 million TEUs; in 2014, by 6.9% to 700 million TEUs; and in 2015, by 7.5% to 750 million TEUs.

Asian container traffic will dominate total throughput for 2012 until 2015. For this year, Asian volume will hit 345.5 million TEUs; for 2013, 375 million TEUs; 2014, 406.3 million TEUs; and 2015, 442.4 million TEUs.

The expansion in global throughput has led to more and more new generation container vessels, including Maersk Line’s “Triple-E” class vessels with a capacity of 18,000 TEUs, Naruse said.

A total of 10 Triple-E ships will go into service between 2013 and 2015 with a further option for 20 ships, he pointed out.


Growing container fleet

The trend toward bigger vessels has jacked up global capacity. As of 2010, the global container fleet had a capacity of about 13 million TEUs. This is expected to continue to expand to 18 million TEU in 2015 with delivery of more newbuildings.

In order to accommodate the demands of new generation container ships, Naruse said ports need to consider expanding their capacities based on long-range plans. Specifically, they need to invest in infrastructure (ie, lengthen and deepen berths), superstructures (gantry cranes) and overall operational efficiency.

He noted it is also crucial that ports “develop their own approach rather than just copying others’.”

Increasingly, port operators have taken many measures to improve operational efficiency, including the introduction of automated terminals and port community systems (PCS), Naruse said. PCS provides a single window system for port communities to securely exchange documents and information electronically with their stakeholders involved in the maritime transport and logistics chain, including trading partners and government agencies.

As a result, many ports have been transformed from “mere interface between maritime transport and land transport” into “hub of seamless logistics chain” and “logistics value-creator or value-adder”, Naruse said.

They have fashioned themselves into logistics hubs that require integrated value-added logistics services, efficient land access and advanced information technology, he added.

On top of such transformation, ports are increasingly compelled to answer the global call for more eco-friendly environments, the IAPH secretary-general said. This has compelled ports to, among others, comply with international regulations against pollutants and introduce port clean air programs.

“To reduce the amount of pollutants emitted from ports, ports are beginning to retrofit these equipment types (cargo-handling equipment operating all the time) with emissions control systems, replace older equipment with newer cleaner equipment, or use cleaner fuel technologies, such as electrification,” Naruse concluded.

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