IHS Markit: Productivity Slows Down at World’s Top 30 Container Ports

Productivity levels at the world’s top 30 container ports have demonstrated little sign of improvement over the past two years, and ports in several world regions are showing worrying levels of decline, according to the latest port productivity analysis by IHS Markit.

Relative port productivity among the top 30 ports decreased by 7.5 percent between the first half of 2014 and the same period in 2016.

“With the exception of a few bright spots, the picture overall is not a good one,” Andy Lane of CTI Consultancy, said, adding that “most of the declines were experienced in 2015, and we saw a slight rebound in the first half of 2016, but it was not enough to recover port efficiency back to 2014 levels.”

“The reason for the poor productivity performance across regions is largely attributed to apathy and lack of recognition as to the potential value of achieving productivity improvements,” Lane noted.

According to the IHS Markit port productivity analysis, major ports in the Mediterranean booked the biggest declines in productivity as the combination of an increase in average steam-in time from 4.2 hours to 8.3 hours, and a 12 percent decline in berth productivity resulted in a 23 percent overall decline in port productivity.

The next-worse performers were the major ports in Middle East & India, registering a 16 percent decline in relative berth productivity, slightly offset with an improved steam-in from 6.9 to 6.8 hours. When combined, it resulted in a 12 percent decline.

East Asia recorded a 9 percent decline in port productivity, while North America’s port productivity was down by 8 percent. In Southeast Asia a more modest 3 percent decrease in port productivity occurred.

The only region hosting major ports that demonstrated an improvement was North Europe, where port productivity improved by 7 percent, achieved solely by reduced steam-in times from 6.9 to 4.9 hours while berth productivity peaked.

Furthermore, the analysis shows extensive time wastage between arrivals at a port to completion of the berthing process. Of the 25,000 vessel calls analyzed in the top 30 ports during the first half of 2016, average waiting time varied by region from 0.4 hours in North America to a whopping 7.3 hours in the Mediterranean, with a global average of 4.7 hours of idle time per vessel call being consumed.

“Even with a generous target of three hours of waiting per call, 1.7 hours of every port call can be eliminated and converted to slower sailing, which for the industry’s 400,000 port calls per year could add up to a potential value pool of close to USD 1 billion,” Lane said.

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