MEGA ships bring inefficiencies to quay and stack yard operations as well as declines in schedule reliability, says PSA International CEO Tan Chong Meng.
Mr Tan told delegates of 18th TOC Container Supply Chain Asia Conference and Exhibition at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore, that bigger ships are a mixed blessing.
Mr Tan said 80 per cent of cargo is concentrated in alliances, while 20 per cent of vessels are mega-ships, characterising the development as "three steps forward and two steps back".
Containerships, he said, are now 400 metres long and result in far more "berth wastage" as handling two of them renders 90 metres of a berth unusable while three smaller ships could fit in nicely before.
Of the 52 berths PSA operates in Singapore, said Mr Tan, 20 can handle mega ships, less than 40 per cent of total quay capacity. By 2018, 35 out of 67 berths will be able to handle mega-ships, he said.
"But in terms of kilometres of quay, these 35 berths will take up two-thirds of the total, so it's a much higher investment - our capacity investment is much higher over the next two decades," he said.
Another problem was the effect of the cargo flows from the mega ships when combined with cost reduction such as slow-steaming and voided sailings, reported the British International Freight Association (BIFA) newsletter.
"Schedule reliability is getting worse and reached a new low of 64 per cent of on-time arrivals in the fourth quarter last year, and it doesn't seem to be getting better," he said.
This is compounded by the huge numbers of containers being loaded and unloaded in a single call, which led to far more complexity in yard operations and had a direct effect on landside flows in and out of box terminals, he said.
"We have to find new ways of optimising the supply chain, the upsizing of vessels is only the beginning. The other parts of the supply chain have yet to catch up," said Mr Tan.
Source : HKSG.