FOR any commercial operator, a vessel at anchor inevitably means lost income. For the port or terminal it could be seen as a sign that there is congestion or some other inefficiency that means the vessel has to wait to get a berth.
And when that vessel gets to the berth in a terminal, if it then has to wait to begin cargo operations, or if it has a lengthy wait to leave once operations are completed, it could also indicate lost cargo time for the terminal. In shipping, particularly in the competitive container trades, idleness costs money. A lot of it.
A 16th Concept Note written by Mikael Lind, Research Manager at the Research Institute of Sweden and a number of other experts who are active in the Port CDM/STM Validation projects, highlights these costs.
They looked at container ship operations in the top 55 European ports in 2017, looking at the amount of time vessels were idle, namely when they had to wait to manoeuvre through a port to a terminal berth, when they had to wait for cargo operations once they finished the operation of mooring, and at the end of the cargo operations how long these containerships had to wait to be able to slip their berth and continue their voyage.
From 38,425 containership calls in these 55 ports, the authors noted 71,202 hours of idle time. That means there was an average of nearly two hours (1.85 hours to be exact) of idle time for each call. This, they say, equates to a significant opportunity to save money in commercial operations.
It is an opportunity to save $100m a year just at the European containership terminals and with those ships. Their point is that if this study were able to be global, and across different cargo/terminal/ship types, the savings potential could be n the billions of dollars.
This is one of their major arguments for using the concept of Port CDM, or Port Collaborative Decision Making, in the intra-port community ( as well as between ports and terminals to allow data sharing to result in better co ordination) Delays in ship operations and manoeuvres are due, they argue, to poor communication, namely informing each party involved in a port call what each other party is doing.