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Backing for NSW empty container study findings

CTAA welcomes efficiency and consistency message on ECPs


Transport for NSW (TfNSW) publishes the NSW Empty Container Supply Chain Study, the findings of which gained quick support from one interested industry party.

TfNSW states key refoms could help save transport and logistics an estimated $49 million per year.

Port Botany services around 1,600 vessels and 2.5 million containers every year. While imported containers are usually ‘full’ when they arrive from overseas, they are often stored and later exported back overseas empty.

“The effective management of empty containers is a key contributor to an overall supply chain efficiency,” TfNSW executive director for freight Susie Mackay says.

“The NSW Freight and Ports Plan 2018-2023 includes an initiative to improve the movement and utilisation of empty containers and Transport for NSW has worked with shipping lines, stevedores, intermodal terminal and empty container park operators to investigate how to improve the movement of empty containers into and out of Port Botany.”

Recommendations in the study include:

  • The development of a new industry standard for more efficient and consistent empty container park (ECP) operations in Sydney
  • Technology upgrades and improved data and information sharing across the supply chain
  • Tonger-term actions including potential infrastructure considerations to increase ECP capacity.

The work was led by the NSW Port Transport Logistics Taskforce, a joint industry and government taskforce.

Read how Port Botany gains additional empty container storage, here

Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) describes the findings as a vindication of the concerns of NSW CTAA alliance companies about the real inefficiencies in the empty container management chain associated with container trades through Port Botany.

“CTAA was instrumental in advocating for this Study to be commissioned, published and now acted upon.  We worked extremely closely with Transport for NSW, NSW Ports and the Study consultants to highlight the deficiencies, and to quantify their cost impacts on the NSW container logistics supply chain,” director Neil Chambers says, adding the $49 million savings is likely an underestimation.

“The study also supports the long-held view of CTAA alliance companies that there is insufficient empty container management capacity in NSW to manage the cycles in demand, creating inefficient movement and handling processes.

“A large percentage of empty containers are now ‘staged’ back through transport yards because it is almost impossible to secure a truck arrival booking into an empty container park or direct to wharf to match the transport of the empty from the importer’s premises. 

“This involves additional truck travel time costs and container lift costs borne by transport operators.”

CTAA notes concerns about the lack of electronic information sharing by the international container shipping lines are also highlighted.

“The lack of electronic information about import empty de-hire instructions leads to inefficient information re-keying and manual gate-in processing, all of which costs time and money,” Chambers notes

“The lack of visibility about available of export empty container stock can also lead to futile truck trips and serious delays to vital export supply chains.

“Achieving consistent coverage of electronic information from shipping lines will enable the container transport logistics sector to move forward with the implementation of processes to achieve ‘paperless’ gate entry into empty container parks in NSW. 

“This will markedly speed up truck processing, driving down operating costs and improving truck utilisation rates.

CTAA says it looks forward to contributing to the NSW Empty Container Working Group to be established by Transport for NSW in July.

The study can be found here


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