Fremantle port truck productivity in the spotlight

Photography by: Greg Bush

Report highlights conditions similar to those tackled in eastern states

Fremantle port truck productivity in the spotlight
Truck productivity around Fremantle Port has stagnated since 2006.


Perth is struggling with the truck and container handling problems that have previously beset Sydney and Melbourne, a Fremantle Ports report reveals.

The organisation’s Truck Productivity Study report seeks solutions to issues that will be eerily familiar to port-services and transport firms in eastern capitals including: import-export container imbalances; restrictive empty container park operating hours; container size and weight variances; unintended consequences of the vehicle booking system (VBS) requirements at the container terminals, and, in recent times, by the ContainerChain (CC) notification system at empty container parks.

These and other issues had seen truck productivity stagnate since 2006 and fall in 2012, the report that also involved the Freight and Logistics Council of WA and the WA Port Operations Task Force notes.

The report’s authors want three main aspects taken on by transport operators:

  • expand training to improve understanding of VBS and ContainerChain functionality
  • consider role of high productivity vehicles (HPVs) for future chain development
  • examine vehicle standards to allow more night operations while managing community impacts.

Stronger commercial relationships between container terminals and transport operators should also be investigated and bulk run activities moved to off-peak periods.

One future development is expected to colour the port-truck interface and is supported by the authors though they see it raising modal complications.

"In addition to the strategies identified in the Truck Productivity Study, the Federal and State governments have recently announced the Perth Freight Link development," the report states.

"The development should have a significant impact on trucking efficiency once the new infrastructure is completed. Faster and, equally important, reliable transit times will improve fleet efficiency.

"The possibility of high productivity vehicles (capable of carrying four TEU [20-foot equivalent unit] as opposed to the current maximum of three TEU) being permitted on this route will also confer benefits, such as the promotion of greater use of hubs with high productivity vehicles providing efficient line haul operations to distribution centres.

"It could, however, adversely affect port rail services and will need careful consideration to ensure the best overall outcome is achieved.

"An assessment of the productivity benefits and industry and community impacts was outside the scope of the Truck Productivity Study."

Interestingly, the study identifies characteristics of successful operators following six case study interviews," it says.

"Transport operators, for example, are achieving success with import clients and extended operating hours by arranging with importers to have after-hours access to importer premises using keys and access codes.

"Although this is subject to the specific set-up of importer sites and may not be suitable for all importers, it demonstrates an effective way to ensure transport operators can continue delivery operations into off-peak times.

"This extended access may increase transport operators’ ability to undertake two-way loaded movements to and from depots or the port precinct."

One operator is quoted as saying that "evening operations are a more cost-efficient way to operate as they avoid a lot of the inefficiencies seen during the day due to the various parties in the supply chain not working in a unified manner".

The operator found that double the volume could be handled compared to daylight operations, the study says.

The report can be found here.

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