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i-maritime news letter

Indian box terminals yet to catch up with global counterparts - 2012-01-18

After India's container terminals were privatised more than a decade back, the efficiency and productivity in these terminals have been keenly watched by many in the shipping industry globally.

And, going by the data provided by the Shipping Ministry, terminals in India are not on par with those abroad. This is despite that the terminals are operated by global players.

Container vessels are sophisticated and expensive. They need efficient container-handling equipment to ensure quick turnaround time. Hence, many innovative methods and handling systems have been introduced to achieve higher productivity in a container terminal. As a consequence, monitoring of terminal performance is important and done by watching the performance of shore cranes.

Associated and derivative parameters like number of moves an hour (the total moves of all cranes working for a vessel, also known as vessel throughput an hour), terminal throughput (the total twenty-ft equivalent units handled by the terminal in a day) and yard productivity (the number of containers handled in a yard) have also emerged. The background paper from the Working Group for Strengthening of Major Port Statistics of the Ministry says there is a difference in three chief performance indicators — crane productivity, container evacuation rate and turnaround time between major Indian ports and Singapore and Rotterdam. However, these variations depend on several factors, such as availability of terminals for handling containers; area available for terminals at ports; expansion or construction constraints; draft available at berth and in channel; availability of equipment; and volume of cargo and level of mechanisation. The Working Group, having considered variations, said benchmarking of productivity and efficiency of Indian Major Ports against international ports is not feasible. However, some in the shipping industry disagree with this observation.

Although global container terminal operators are present in India, they are stymied by constraints within major ports, which constrain their efficiency indicators, said Mr. K. Ravichandran, Senior Vice-President of ICRA Ltd and an expert on the shipping sector. Mr. S.S. Kulkarni, Secretary-General, Indian Private Ports & Terminals Association, said global operators would always want to see the performance of all their terminals on par. Howsoever this may be desired, terminal productivity is a function of many factors, including port connectivity and other infrastructure challenges at each port and local labour norms. These, the operators rightly claim, are beyond their control.

Source: Hindu Business Line