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Container parks body ECWG looks to longer remit

Port Botany container logistics chain update underlines haulage concerns


The New South Wales Empty Container Working Group (ECWG) is looking towards an extended run.

The ECWG has representatives of all parts of the container logistics chain and aims to ease the serious global disruption being experienced locally.

“The meetings will continue to have a strategic focus on medium to longer term improvements that increase the efficiency of the empty container supply with tactical discussions if required,” a recent communiqué stated.

“The meetings will occur every two months and will provide an opportunity to consider outcomes from out of session discussion between relevant stakeholders regarding identified initiatives.”

A survey of road transport operators was prepared to seek input from the transport industry on after-hours operating models, the use of alternative de-hire/collection pathways and general observations on required system improvements.

Read about ECWG developments from earlier in the year, here

It was completed by 50 transport operators, varying from small to large operators, with a survey completion rate of 70%.

It is estimated that survey respondents represent 40-60% of overall road-based container movements in NSW.

Key findings include:

  • Transport operators have observed a number of benefits to after-hours de-hires including better slot availability and faster turnaround times. However, these efficiency gains are likely tempered by additional labour and vehicle operating costs.
  • Operators are able to achieve greater two-way utilisation of vehicles and faster turnaround times through direct returns. However, a number of factors impact on the ability to increase direct returns, including sudden closure of terminal facilities, slot availability and inconsistency in operating hours. If these impediments were lessened or removed, transport operators would be more willing to undertake direct returns to stevedore terminals/Cargolink.
  • Operators noted that while they may benefit from capacity increases further inland from the Port, any potential benefits are likely to be offset by the need to travel to the Port to collect containers.
  • Operators would like to see greater slot availability, labour and machinery, and use of automated truck processing to improve turnaround times at ECPs.
  • Operators are particularly concerned about the rising costs to de-hire/collect empty containers in NSW.

A Transport for NSW update noted rollout of the truck tracking project using automated number plate recognition (ANPR) technology for ECPs was completed, with some minor back end work being sorted out to bring all sites on line in the coming weeks.

The first draft of the performance dashboards were presented to the ECWG with drafts for public preview to follow at next meeting.

Meanwhile, a few seemingly intractable issues seem little closer to resolution.

Afterhours ECP usage fails to make much headway, with 5pm-5am slot utilisation at about 24% and weekends at 6%.

There are on average 124 redirections notifications, new and existing, per day at Port Botany. For July, there were 324 new redirections notifications issued in ContainerChain, representing a 270% increase from the previous month.

On the rail side, despite the state government’s desire to raise container numbers moved by train to 28% , intermodal operator Qube reportedly stated at its annual results presentation that the use of A-double combinations had sent this down to 14-15% for five of the 12 months to June.

“We didn’t understand the magnitude of it,” Qube MD Paul Digney said, Grain Central reported.

“We think it’s inconsistent with policy in moving to more rail modal share out of Port Botany.”


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