Tag Archives: productivity


Cost, operational challenges hinder port automation

Ben Meyer in American Shipper has summarized a McKinsey report on port automation and port modernization.  One interesting point in the discussion is that port operators are actually not seeing productivity gains in automated ports. Throughputs are actually slower.  They have some explanations for this, but it is a real problem.

It struck me that automation is often seen as going hand in hand with better visibility of cargoes in the port and readiness for delivery.  to the extent that the software requires automation, there may be a correlation here that does not bode well in the medium term.

In the long term it may well turn out better, but meanwhile, the customer may suffer.



via Cost, operational challenges hinder port automation

Geographic gaps are widening in U.S. as economic growth increases

This is a quite interesting article on the distribution of economic development in the US.  It says we have to start doing something about the ill distribution to a few highly urbanized areas that are often based on high tech industries.

screenshot-www.brookings.edu 2018-01-25 13-18-03-392   via Geographic gaps are widening while U.S. economic growth increases

Productivity is declining at the world’s biggest ports, ‘mega-boxships not to blame’

This study is provocative, but may not tell the whole story. It is not clear to me that productivity should fall in direct proportion to the size of the call.  That’s a rough approximation, and captures the direction, likely.  But I suspect a nonlinear effect.  It’s basically a scheduling issue, and scheduling response rates are notoriously nonlinear.

It is complicated by the fact that a ship is usually only able to be scheduled at one terminal, even though another terminal may have excess capacity and be able to handle it exactly on time. That depends on the degree of cooperation possible among terminal operators.  An interesting study would be to look at calls at a single port with multiple terminals and see how often there is a berth available for an ULCV but the specific ship cannot use it because it is required to use a different terminal.

I don’t see an easy way for port management or terminal management or ocean carriers and alliances to solve that one.

That said, I agree with the conclusion: it’s not mega-calls. I don’t think we should be blaming the mega container ships for the problems.  Those ships will come, so ports need to innovate. A goal like 6000 moves in 24 hours is reasonable.

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New analysis suggest that port productivity levels are dropping, but ultra-large container vessels are not at fault

Source: Productivity is declining at the world’s biggest ports, ‘but mega-boxships are not to blame’ – The Loadstar