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First step for Victorian stevedore reporting model

CTAA seeks replication of landside scrutiny in other states


Transport Victoria has released its first quarterly Voluntary Performance Monitoring Framework (VPMF) report, as part of the state government’s normalisation of an unregulated landside revenue stream for container stevedores.

The VPMF ‘quarterly dashboard’ report is one of two parts to Victoria’s Voluntary Port of Melbourne Performance Model (VPPM), the other being the Voluntary Pricing Protocol, which aims to “govern notification processes and timing for how stevedores levy fees and how charges are set in respect to the landside”.

Much of the data replicates and is consistent with the federal Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics’ Waterline report and the Australian Competition and the Consumer Commission (ACCC) for its annual Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report.

It is based on information from Patrick, DP World Australia (DPWA) and Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) but de-aggregates from port level to the individual stevedore terminal level so that the performance of each terminal can be assessed.

“This meets the objectives of the VPPM by providing greater transparency to industry on land-side port operations as data is reported monthly and not aggregated at the port level,” the state transport department said.

“Freight Victoria will continue to work with stevedores to refine performance measures and work towards developing a standard reporting template for future iterations of the VPMF Quarterly Dashboard.”

Two indicators not used in Waterline or reports relate to ‘proportion of timeslots actually used’ by container trucks – as opposed to timeslots available, which is – and the’ proportion of truck no-shows’ after slots have been booked.

While both are nominally haulage-focused, for the former, it is noted that “the variation in proportion of timeslots actually used is reflective of the different operating models across the three”.

For the latter, the report states this indicates “reduced access to the terminals for other transport operators” and may indicate “issues in booking behaviours, operational issues preventing operators from attending zones, etc”.

Read how Patrick aligned with stevedore access charging protocols, here

While a long-term opponent of stevedores’ landside behaviour and states allowing them to burden haulage firms with collection of charges, Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) nevertheless backs the move to add transparency to terminal performance.

And it is looking for similar in other container ports.

“CTAA and its member companies have been central to advocating for closer independent Government scrutiny of the road and rail landside interface with the stevedore terminals in all capital city ports in Australia, including Melbourne.” CTAA director Neil Chambers observed in a statement.

“In our view, significant increases in landside terminal access fees (infrastructure charges) levied by all stevedoring companies since mid-2017 haven’t been accompanied by an adequate analysis of landside productivity offsets.

“This initiative by the Victorian government will go a long way to building a set of performance data that industry and Government can assess over time to ensure that the stevedores’ landside investments and operational policies and processes make genuine attempts to improve the efficiency, productivity and cost effectiveness of the road & rail / stevedore terminal interfaces.

“As to be expected, the first three months of data won’t give us solid trend lines. Even so, we can already see that the average TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) per truck movement, as well as the proportion of heavy vehicles that are able to ‘backload’ into and out of the terminals, are areas where we can work collaboratively across the container logistics chain to improve landside efficiencies.

“Truck turnaround times will also be a strong focus, as will the trends related to Vehicle Booking System slots offered by the terminals (i.e. their capacity to service heavy vehicle movements across all time zones) and those taken up by the transport operators (demand for VBS slots).”

CTAA also notes that the Victorian government intends to develop subsequent monitoring stages, including for the empty container management chain, rail container freight performance, and freight transport network performance.

“We’ve urged the Victorian government to move quickly to monitor empty container management chain performance due to the significant constraints in empty container park truck arrival (gate-in) and overall operational capacity experienced at the height of the Covid-induced import surge in late 2020 and early 2021,” Chambers stated.

“While Melbourne has coped relatively well with empty container management capacity overall when compared with other capital city ports such as Port Botany, individual bottlenecks continue to occur.

“This is particularly so when shipping lines lack flexible import de-hire or export pick-up alternatives, or doggedly direct empty de-hires to already congested empty container park facilities or directly into stevedore terminals where return time slots may be scarce.

“The overall efficiency and cost effectiveness of a port’s container logistics chains are made or broken by how well we handle the management of empty containers.

“Poor empty container management capacity and operational performances can add significant unwanted costs into import and export supply chains.

“The VPMF initiative in Victoria now stands alongside the performance data collected by Transport for NSW to monitor container logistics performance at Port Botany in Sydney.

“We should be able to make some useful comparisons between the two major Australian capital city container ports over time.”

“CTAA has also raised our members’ views with the office of the Queensland minister for transport and the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) that a comparable government-led independent performance monitoring framework should be established to monitor the landside / terminal interfaces at the Port of Brisbane.”

“That way, we can have a consistent and transparent view of container logistics chain performances at all major ports on the eastern seaboard.

“That is something we’ve never had before and is needed as container logistics trade continues to grow.”

The dashboard report can be found here.


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