Speaking at TOC Europe in Rotterdam this week, Hans Augusteijn, head of network and procurement North Europe, for the carrier defended the line’s move to ever-larger ships, stating that its orders for 19,600 teu ships were simply to “keep up with growth”.
But while Maersk had expected a concomitant increase of port productivity when these behemoths started to call at global ports this has so far failed to materialise.
“Berth productivity is going up but not keeping up with the increase in vessel sizes, so we actually have a longer port stay,” he said. “What is more worrying is that over the last four years we have not enjoyed a real productivity increase in terms of crane productivity.
“We would actually expect that a larger ship would bring economies of scale and increased productivity, but we are not seeing that.”
Mr Augusteijn added that improved productivity and shorter stays were better for the environment, better on delivery times for customers, and better for terminals in terms of asset management. “We can all benefit,” he said.
He conceded that Maersk does not have a ‘golden bullet’ for improving terminal productivity, but is aware that carriers do have a key role to play.
“One of the things that I hear from the terminal is make sure the ship is on time and we know we have to do more to improve there. It takes two to tango, if we don’t do our job in giving you the information, you can’t do your job on increasing productivity.
“Another thing that we are doing together with the terminals is performance-based pay. So not only do we have a higher asset turn by having better productivity, we’re also sharing the upsides that we have. We will share slow steaming savings with the terminal operator; conversely if the ship needs to speed up we would also share the pain.”
Source: Port Strategy