Waterline report highlights some port truck efficiencies

Turnaround times level, backloading down but but TEU on trucks rise

Waterline report highlights some port truck efficiencies
Detail form the report cover showing a Flinders Ports’ aerial view of Flinders Adelaide Container Terminal at Outer Harbor


It has come hard on the heels of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) stevedores monitoring report but the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics’ (BITRE’s) Waterline 64 survey of port efficiency has plenty to intrigue.

For just as stevedore infrastructure surcharges are regularly busting through the 1,000 per cent over the inflation rate, sometimes twice a year, port interface costs for all containership categories are mostly plunging.

Waterline 64 covers July-December 2018 and shows for costs per twenty-foot equivalent unit  (TEU) of container for small, medium and large ships fell $11, $11 and $3 respectively, while those for imports fell  $16 and $9 respectively while large importing ships saw their cost rise $2.

Despite the falls, importers and landside haulage firms report savings fail to be passed on to them.

As the ACCC notes, average truck turnaround time was steady in the five ports in July-December 2018, compared with the same period in 2017, with times decreasing at Brisbane (7.9 per cent) and Melbourne (3.3 per cent), but increasing at Sydney (7.4 per cent), Adelaide (7.3 per cent) and Fremantle (1.5 per cent).

Containers per truck measured in TEU terms have grown from averaging 2.4 in 2016 to 2.6 in Brisbane and Adelaide and 2.6 to 2.7 in Melbourne, reflecting greater used of trailers able to haul two 40-foot containers. This was lower in Fremantle, 2.3 to 2.4, while Sydney lagged at 2.0 to 2.1. The five-ports’ average was 2.2 to 2.4.

Unfortunately, the backloading of containers, a key indication of efficient use of haulage assets around ports, barely moved.

The proportion of trucks backloaded in July-December 2018 remained fairly stable, decreasing by 0.3 percentage points to 13.2 per cent," the report states.

"In July-December 2018, the largest percentage of backloaded operations was in Adelaide (27.6 per cent)."

See how port truck turnaround times fared last year, here

Meanwhile, the containerchain continues to be tested by fewer but larger ships, an issue long anticipated.

While pure containership calls fell 2.1 per cent in the five main containerports, compared with the same period the year before, the total number of containers passing through rose 3.8 per cent, with the total slipping past the 2 million mark in the December 2018 quarter for only the third time in the past two years, to 2,073,800, after making it there the quarter before, at 2,061,800.

One area where efficiency is going the right way is in the interface with ships.

Wharfside productivity rose in the five ports, with the crane rate, labour rate and ship rate improving by 6.8 per cent, 12.4 per cent and 12.2 per cent, respectively, as measured in TEU per unit time.

 Melbourne saw the largest improvement in labour rate (17.8 per cent) and ship rate (19.5 per cent), while Adelaide had the largest growth in crane rate at 10.7 per cent.

The average lifts per berth-hour rose 4.9 per cent in the five ports compared to the same period in 2017.

The largest increases occurred in Adelaide (10.9 per cent) and Melbourne (11.1 per cent), while declines occurred in Brisbane (3.4 per cent) and Fremantle (1.2 per cent).

The full report can be found here.


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