Supplementary memorandum by the RSPB (P
1. During the evidence taken by the Committee
on 28 March 2001, the RSPB was asked whether we could name a major
port in the UK that was not seeking to become more efficient and
has demonstrated a desire to develop very quickly without using
its existing estate. RSPB responded saying that we were aware
of ports with expansion plans that appeared less efficient than
other ports. When pressed on this point, RSPB suggested the Port
of Southampton, although at the time we were unable to provide
the Committee with any evidence to this effect.
2. The aim of this supplementary submission
is to look at recent data concerning the efficiency of ports in
the UK and elswhere and to suggest potential ways in which existing
port estates could be made more efficient. However, it is RSPB's
opinion that there is currently insufficient information available
to establish the extent to which such measures could reduce the
need for more port infrastructure development and this urgently
needs to be addressed.
3. The RSPB is aware of recently presented
data which facilitates a comparison of efficiency between UK,
European and other world ports. Some of this information has already
been made available to the Committee but is reproduced here for
the sake of completeness. From data published by ABP, it can be
seen that in the UK, Felixstow is the most efficient container
port in terms of TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent units, a standard
measure of container: a "small" container is one TEU,
a "large" container is two TEU) with Southampton fourth
most efficient (see table 1). However, TEU is not necessarily
the best measure of efficienty because one "crane movement"
can shift either a small or large container. Therefore, a port
that shifts predominantly large containers will appear more efficient
in terms of TEU per metre of quayside. However, when efficiency
is measured in terms of containers per crane, it is clear that
Felixstow is significanly more efficient that other container
ports in the UK with Tilbury and Southampton least efficient.
4. When compared to other European ports,
it would appear that Felixstowe is a relatively effective competitor
in terms of efficiency. However, the Port of Southampton is less
efficient (both in terms of TEU per metre of quay and containers
per crane) than Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg.
PORT PRODUCTIVITY IN 1998 (FROM THE NEED
FOR DIBDEN TERMINAL REPORT TS/N1, ABP SEPTEMBER 2000)
|Port||TEU per metre quay
||Containers per hectare||Containers per crane
|Leading 9 N American (1998)||260
|Leading 3 Australasian (1998)||340
|Leading 10 Mediterranean (1998)||390
|Leading 4 Middle East (1998)||460
|Leading 21 Far East (1998)||530
|Leading 4 Japanese (1998)||411
5. Another source of information that paints broadly
the same picture as the data provided by ABP, is the submission
to the Committee from Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd (see table 2).
The measure of TEU per metre of quay should be directly comparable
with the data from ABP. However, the measure of TEU per hectare
is not because it is not possible to tell how many containers
were involved. However, the same general conclusions can be drawn
from this: that the Port of Felixstowe is one of the most efficient
ports in Europe, whilst the Port of Southampton is not.
6. There may be many reasons why the Port of Southampton
appears less efficient than that of its competitors (eg the nature
of the port estate, such as the shape of the stacking area). However,
RSPB is not qualified to comment on such matters, not having detailed
knowledge of the port estates in question.
PORT PRODUCTIVITY AT MAJOR NORTH EUROPEAN CONTAINER PORTS
(FROM HUTCHISON PORTS (UK) LIMITED SUBMISSION TO THE TRANSPORT
SUB-COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO UK PORTS, JANUARY 2001)
|Port||TEU per metre of quay
||TEU per hectare
3. APPROACHES TO
7. Clearly, estimates of required infrastructure to meet
predicted capacity shortfalls assumes that there are no significant
improvements in the efficiency and productivity of existing port
facilities. There may be a range of ways in which ports could
increase throughput by changing working practices and/or introducing
new, more efficient superstructure. A key issue is the "just
in time" approach to the manufacture and distribution of
goods. It should ensure a seamless commodity transfer from factory
to shop without pausing in ports. Cars are a particular bad example
of the "just in time" concept in practice. Containers
are a better example with relatively short dwell times in ports.
Ensuring that the "just in time" concept works better
could mean a reduction in pressure for storage space at ports.
However, where buffer areas for holding cargo prior to just in
time delivery are needed, a strong argument can be made for siting
these at ports in order to reduce road haulage.
3.1 CHANGES IN
8. The efficiency of ports in handling goods varies.
For example, Southampton handled 320,000 units in 1992 on 45ha
of storage (1.4m2 per unit). In comparison, Thamesport handled
127,000 units on 24ha (1.8m2 per unit) whilst Tilbury handled
270,000 units on 52ha (1.9m2 per unit) (MDS Transmodal 1994a).
The difference is partly due to the type of cranes used. Variation
also exists between UK and Continental ports (table 3). This suggests
that there may be improvements to be made in throughput at Continental
and UK ports, depending on the superstructure being used. For
example, if productivity at Southampton increased from 500 TEU
per metre of quay to 700 TEU per metre (an increase of 40 per
cent) then the predicted shortfall in capacity of 3,500m quay
length by 2011 might be reduced to 2,500m (MDS Transmodal 1994a)
COMPARISON BETWEEN UK AND CONTINENTAL CONTAINER THROUGHPUT
AND FACILITIES AVAILABLE (DATA FROM MDS TRANSMODAL 1994a)
| ||Continental terminals
|Mean annual units per crane||51,200
|Mean annual units per metre length of quay
|Mean annual units per ha storage (straddle carriers)
|Mean annual units per ha storage (yard cranes)
9. The efficiency of crane handling technology is increasing
with the introduction of new designs. This partly in response
to concerns that the efficiency of existing crane technology (25-30
containers per shoreside crane per hour) will not be enough for
the new larger container ships (6,000 TEU) (Lloyd's List 3/2/97a).
The new "Octopus" system allows more shoreside cranes
to work side by side on the dock (six cranes to work a 320 metre
quay compared to double the length of quay required for six conventional
cranes). This arrangement allows 240 container movements per hour
(40 containers per crane per hour) and effectively 60 per cent
fewer occupancy days for vessels alongside. The Robotic Container
handling features eight cranes along a 2,000 foot quay, capable
of unloading two vessels simultaneously (Lloyd's List 3/2/97a).
The terminal would be able to handle more than 600,000 TEU per
annum using as little as 10 per cent of the land occupied by an
equivalent all-wheeled operation and 20 per cent of a grounded
facility. However, such improvements in loading/unloading rates
are only possible if quayside transportation systems are developed
to cope with increased throughput.
10. Alongside the new "Octopus" system is an
improved trailer transportation system that includes the construction
of a 14 metre high roadway for automated vehicles with conventional
vehicles move beneath. The proposed Robotic Container handling
machine would include a random access racking system equivalent
to an automated warehouse storage facility. There would be separate
but integrated empty container storage facility which would ensure
that the "top-box" is always the "next to go",
minimising the operational costs for empties compared to the random
access method. The system is designed to increase efficiency of
each quayside crane to 50-70 containers per hour (equivalent to
602,640 containers a year) and turn round a 5,200 TEU ship in
a little over 34 hours. At the Port of Singapore, tractors twice
the size of conventional models transport containers four at a
time to dockyards where bridge cranes stack them seven high (Slavin
1996). At Coatbridge container terminal, recent investment in
5-high front loaders means that stacking is not restricted to
the traditional 3-high (Lloyd's List 10/2/97b).
11. Another development in dockside transportation is
the trailer-train concept. A single tractor can now move multiple
units in a train of trailers. The Port of Rotterdam currently
uses the Busicar trailer system whilst three of Europe's other
largest containers ports are now committed to the concept (Lloyd's
List 3/2/97b). Felixstowe has begun to use twin sets and is reported
to be introducing three trailer sets during 1997. However, the
concept has yet to catch on more widely due to the cost of buying
inter-linked trailers and a special tractor to tow them. The system
is also considered inflexible though it is under further development.
12. Gains in productivity are not restricted to the lo-lo
sector. For example, the installation of larger grabs, a pan feeder
and the upgrading of conveyor belt speeds has increased efficiency
and throughput at Clydeport (Lloyd's List 10/2/97c).
3.2 CHANGES IN
13. Changes to the way ships are berthed has been shown
to greatly increase productivity and throughput. For example,
at the Port of Singapore, shipping lines were allocated their
own berths and a computer programme assigned ships according to
priority, draft and yard cranes available. On average 75 per cent
of ships were docked on arrival and 65 containers per hour were
handled. However, a new system allows allocation to any available
berth, including those of smaller shipping linesthe virtual
port. On average, 95 per cent of ships docked as soon as they
arrived and container handling rate has increased to 78 per hour
(Slavin 1996). However, there may be pressure from shipping lines
to retain dedicated berths. At the port of Rotterdam, Maersk have
demanded exclusive facilities (Lloyd's List 30/1/97). The port's
view is that the requirements of other users must also be considered.
However, big carriers like Maersk can in effect demand what they
like. Similarly, at Southampton, Honda has recently been given
a dedicated terminal (Berth 202) that has had to be doubled in
size to cope with the increased traffic (Lloyd's List 15/10/96).
14. Improvements in capacity can be achieved through
the reorganisation of ro-ro parking facilities. The Port of Dover
is reorganising car parking which will increase capacity from
500 to 800 trailers (Lloyd's List 4/3/97). At Southampton, ro-ro
facilities have in effect been operating at 25 per cent over capacity
compared to some other ro-ro ports. This is achieved by the practice
of "block" parking rather than "random access"
15. The onward transportation of goods from a port can
also affect port productivity and throughput. For example, by
switching more goods to rail transport from road, greater throughput
can be achieved because trains can move 24 hours a day whilst
the time lorries are permitted on the road without breaks is restricted.
Use of rail for onward transport of port goods may well be increasing.
Approximately 25 per cent of containers moved through SCT already
move by rail (Lloyd's List 27/1/97). However, the extent to which
goods should be moved out of ports into other holding areas is
a matter for debate. It can be argued that a port is essentially
a buffer stock area between different modes of transport. The
fact that an act of stevedoring takes place between two modes
of transport at the port arguably makes it the ideal site to hold
cargo, in order to avoid double handling.
16. One of the factors which has increased pressure on
port land especially for holding goods is the abolition of the
National Dock Labour Scheme in 1989 and the fact that receivers
have ceased to be concerned about poor industrial relations in
the ports. The reduced threat that their cargo could be "locked
up" by industrial action at ports has removed the need to
pull cargo out of the port into intermediate holding areas. Cargo
can now be processed, sorted and re-packaged within the port without
using registered dock labour. The effects are most evident in
the case of imported cars, which are now held in large numbers
on the quayside.
17. Increased efficiency and productivity by investing
in new superstructure, cranes and trailer systems, and by adjusting
or adopting different working practices might have a significant
impact on the capacity of ports in the future. However, it is
not known how far this can go, or the economic costs to the ports
industry in new investment. There is a need to establish:
To what extent can ports reduce demands for more
infrastructure by increasing the efficiency of existing superstructure
(eg cranes)? What is the scale of improvement (if any) using existing
To what extent can the application of new superstructure,
cranes, trailers and warehouses increase efficiency and productivity,
and reduce the demand for new infrastructure? Is the technology
proven? How much will it cost port operators?
To what extent can changes in working practice,
such as ending exclusive berths for shipping lines, reduce demand
for more port facilities? What draw backs are there?
How much "extra" capacity can be gained
by rearranging existing parking areas or adopting different approaches
to parking? What are the draw backs of practices such as block
parking of cars?
Would an improvement in the "just in time"
approach reduce pressure for increased space at ports? What are
the advantages and disadvantages of using ports as holding areas
rather than immediate onward transportation of goods to the market
or to inland storage areas? How can more rapid onward transport
of goods be achieved?
How much spare capacity could be created by increased
stacking of containers (eg increasing height from three to five,
seven or even nine containers)? Is there scope for more stacking
of other goods? What are the infrastructure implications and costs
of doing this? What other environmental issues would need to be
3.3 CHANGES IN
18. In addition to changes in superstructure efficiency,
port productivity may be increased through the further application
of "information technology". For example, at the Port
of Singapore, £3 billion is being spent on automating the
terminal in order to maintain competitiveness (Slavin 1996). The
proposed new terminal will be able to handle five million containers
with a work force of just 500. A computer system "Portnet"
allows shipping lines to complete paperwork electronically before
arriving at port. Small ships can turn round in as little as four
hours, whilst bigger ships take up to 12 hours. Electronic tagging,
recognition and tracing of containers allows for efficient "paper
free" movement of lorries. The new automated container port
will allow containers to be stacked nine high. Problems with ordering
of containers (the top one is always the "one to go")
are overcome with new computers.
19. Of course, the application of IT is not cheap. At
Singapore, the costs of increased efficiency are passed on to
the shipping lines. Port tariffs increased by an average of 10
per cent and the length of free storage time for containers reduced
from 14 to nine days. Although the shipping lines do not like
these changes, moving containers more quickly saves them time
so within reason, the shipping lines are prepared to pay, although
some defections to other ports are predicted.
20. In the UK, some ports are investing heavily in new
IT. For example, the Port of Bristol is investing in fibre optic
communications systems within the port and bar-coding technology
that reduces the time taken to process a car from two minutes
to 40 seconds (Williams 1996). The Port of Southampton is also
investing in technologySPIN (Southampton Port Information
Network) which is moving the port towards a paperless business
(Lloyd's List 31/1/97). The port is also trialing a one-stop paperless
entry system for lorries arriving at SCT known as SCT Advantage.
This allows operators to provide information electronically so
that they are processed more quickly. Similarly, the Coatbridge
container terminal is investing in new information technology
designed to improve billing, space booking, tracking and stock
control (Lloyd's List 10/2/97b).
21. Information technology and the introduction of more
powerful and intelligent computing systems may be able to increase
capacity at ports by increasing traffic flows and facilitating
new or different working practices. However:
To what extent would increased use of more complex
IT help increase port efficiency and reduce demand for more space
by facilitating faster throughput?
To what extent can IT facilitate other technological
advances such as increased container stacking and automation of
cranes, berthing procedures etc.?
Lloyd's List (15/10/96) New facilities open as Southampton
hits top spot for cars
Lloyd's List (31/01/97) Paperless entry at Southampton
Lloyd's List (27/01/97) Berth 207 boosts SCT quay length
Lloyd's List (03/02/97a) New proposals would leave it
to the robots
Lloyd's List (10/02/97b) Freightliner seas container growth
Lloyd's List (10/02/97c) Clydeport profits up despite
Lloyd's List (03/02/97b) European giants will catch the
Lloyd's List (04/03/97) Ferry terminal to be upgraded
MDS Transmodal (1994a) The future of Southampton Docks: Dibden
Bay port development. Report for Hampshire County Council, May
Slavin (1996) Virtual port of call. New Scientist, 15/6/96:
Williams N (1996) Opportunity docks. In: Folio: for
Bristol & Bath, March 1996, no 17
6 April 2001