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Monday, November 19, 2018

Maritime Logistics Professional

US West Coast ports are way behind their foreign counterparts

Posted to Martin Rushmere (by on November 30, 2012

Singapore shows where the future lies

Union shenanigans at Los Angeles/Long Beach serve up yet another depressing tale of the growing gap in efficiency and dedication between US and foreign ports. Having just toured the Port of Singapore, I can vouch for this firsthand.

The best way to describe it is as a port that just keeps going – and growing. The palpable effect is a sea freeway that keeps the traffic moving, with a minimum of paperwork and formalities. Frankly, the comparison with LA/Long Beach makes US ports look like bumblers and amateurs. Simultaneous unloading/loading of vessels, 24- hour advance notice to customs of manifests (vs. 72 hours for the US), 50-60 container moves an hour, completely automated and remote controlled yard gantry cranes mounted on concrete platforms ( the yard RTGs use individual operators). In the gantry crane control room each operator is in charge of up to six units, using a dashboard and lever that would look at home in a SUV.

One big difference with the US is that the government owns the port, through its Port of Singapore Authority. But, whereas this would be a problem in the US and an easy route to inefficiency, Singapore’s mission is to increase profits and throughputs.

 Another big difference is that, being primarily a transshipment hub, there is no need to worry about thousands of trucks going through the gates and clogging up roads. Local demand and supply takes up only 5 percent of throughput.  

A big disadvantage is land. There simply isn’t any and the only way to expand is by reclamation – which will be a sizeable portion of Phases 3 and 4 of its Pasir Panjang Terminal. This will add 15 new berths, 6,000 meters of quay length and up to 18 meters draft, bringing total capacity to 50 million TEU a year when ready in 2017.

So successful has Singapore been that it now involved in more than a dozen ports around the world.

Last year, foreign volume throughput increased 5 percent, and the balance is now almost equal with the home operation, with total traffic now 59 million TEU.

Total revenue is $4.3 billion and net profit is $1.1 billion.

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