Time to Invest in Port Infrastructure

Although levels of unscheduled downtime have dropped, some 74 % of port owners and operators are experiencing unscheduled downtime, as indicated in Trelleborg’s latest Barometer Report.

The report shows that port owners and operators still aren’t placing the necessary importance on placing whole life value ahead of upfront purchase costs, when procuring mission critical equipment.

Fender damage was the most frequently cited factor contributing to unscheduled downtime. Namely, 20% of port operators and owners have suffered unscheduled downtime due to fender damage.

Two thirds of port owners and operators have upgraded their fender systems in the last five years.

“Although some may be upgrading in order to accommodate bigger vessels or as part of wider refurbishment projects, fender systems are intended to have a design life of 25 years, so the fact that so many have upgraded their systems so recently suggests that installed solutions aren’t performing as they should be,” Trelleborg says.

“The high incidence of fender damage and the subsequent downtime it causes is seemingly due to a lack of awareness on how to specify a truly quality system. There is a need for more education – and the onus is on suppliers to provide it,” the report adds.

A large proportion of respondents, 67%, are taking a “wait and see” approach to the expected increase in LNG bunkering, which will follow the implementation of the 2015 ECA regulations.

In addition, 40 % don’t think current port infrastructure is adequate to keep up with the onwards logistics demand of increased vessel sizes and throughput.

The report data shows that 74% of port operators and owners think the need to update existing port terminals and facilities is the biggest challenge brought about by increasing ship sizes, with 20% expecting container terminals to enjoy the biggest increase in demand over the next five years.

According to Trelleborg, as the market continues to strengthen, there is an opportunity arising for those that can get ahead of demand and invest strategically in port infrastructure now.

“Those that don’t will suffer in a bullish market, as new, modern terminals multiply and others quickly upgrade. The response to LNG as a marine fuel is a perfect example of a market that is inert and reactionary, rather than bold and deliberate,” the company said. “Strategically, port owners and operators should look for ways to optimize the assets they own – and this means paying close attention to operational factors and prioritizing maintenance.”

“Although the market is beginning to move in the right direction, owners, operators, consultants and contractors alike should work more closely with suppliers. Supplier expertise should guide procurement decisions, and technology should enable owners and operators to traverse the obstacles to strategic investment and look forward to plain sailing ahead.”

World Maritime News Staff; Image: DAA

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