Perfect storm of tech and weather costs container haulage

Double whammy sees Melbourne system cost impacts fall on transport sector

Perfect storm of tech and weather costs container haulage
Systemic issues affect the Melbourne container logistics system


The vulnerability of Australian major-port container logistics systems to unplanned disruption has been placed into sharp relief mid-month.

A combination of technology glitches and vessel delays due to bad weather in Sydney has caused considerable delays and added operational headaches for container transport operators in Melbourne over the last week, Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) reports.

Patrick Terminals experienced technology issues when transitioning to an upgraded Terminal Management System (TOS) at its East Swanson Terminal.

This resulted in considerable truck turnaround delays, with some reports of delays of up to eight hours in processing trucks.

 "It is appreciated that Patrick Terminals staff in Melbourne worked hard last week and into this week to rectify the technology issues, and the service levels are now returning to normal – although some difficulties remain to be overcome," CTAA director Neil Chambers says.

"However, the delays last week caused huge added expense to container transport operators, who have needed to allocate more vehicles and resources to the backlog of containers to pick up and deliver to East Swanson Terminal.

"Also, while Patrick has rightly waived any no-show and wrong time zone penalties for last week, many transport operators copped penalties from the other stevedore terminals and other parts of the logistics chain because trucks delayed at Patrick couldn’t make their subsequent timeslots at other facilities.

"There’s little consideration by the other stevedores of the reasons why trucks are delayed or don’t show up … the knock-on effects in penalties and added costs on transport operators can be significant."

Read about how the Port Pricing and Access Review got underway, here

CTAA paints a picture of a blunt system that aims to instil time discipline through added costs but which penalises transport operators who can be blameless as to cause powerless to ameliorate delays and blameless for their cause.

"If a port-wide view was taken about the efficiency of the landside task overall, things may be different. But, currently that’s not the case," Chambers notes.

"In addition to the Terminal Operating System [TOS] difficulties incurred by Patrick, Victoria International Container Terminal [VICT] was having to deal with ship bunching as vessels were delayed by the bad weather in Sydney.

"This led to a paucity of vehicle booking system slots as import containers and export receivals into VICT built up.

"Again, this creates added delays and landside transport pressures that come at a large cost to transport companies.

"To top it all off, DP World Melbourne is now experiencing its own delays, also as a result of a Terminal Operating System upgrade undertaken last Friday.

"If you’ll excuse the pun, it’s been the ‘perfect storm’ in Melbourne last week and this week, including having to deal with the cargo backlogs in this short week with the AFL Final Public Holiday this Friday."

"Freight forwarders and shippers need to understand the difficulties that their transport providers have been subjected to last week and this week."


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