BLAMING megaship cargo surges for port congestion is wrong because there are not enough them in the Asia-Pacific today to make a difference, said an expert.
"Megaships are not the major part of the problem, though vessel size may become a problem in the coming years," said Andy Lane, a Singapore consultant, who did a study of phenomenon.
Mr Lane told the TPM Asia Shipping Conference in Shenzhen that he found that out of 49,000 calls to 27 major Asian ports in 2014, only 12 per cent of vessels were above 10,000 TEU and that larger ships accounted for 22 per cent of total volume.
"Severe peaks existed long before ships exceeded 10,000 TEU in capacity," said Mr Lane, a partner with Singapore-based CTI Consult.
"While this can create temporary congestion, it is the paradigms of weekly manufacturing cycles and week closing that need to be challenged and changed," he said.
Also, the "sub-optimisation of terminal assets" was a more readily identifiable culprit responsible for port congestion - a point taken by other speakers are the conference that drew 600 delegates, said organisers.
Analysis of IHS data on quay crane use at the world's 12 largest ports showed usage rates averaging 48 per cent.
"If these ports were to raise that to 60 per cent, it would increase average crane usage from 28 to 32 moves per hour and provide 44 per cent extra capacity," said Mr Lane.
"Given cranes cost in the region of US$10 million each, this would result in a very large increase in return on investment for that capital equipment, to a value of more than $1 billion a year," he said.
End-of-week peak in shipments and its ripple effects are another factor. Ships gather in east and south China at the same time in order to meet weekend closing schedules, he said.
Because ships sail at similar speeds, they arrive in bunches and this spreads to feeder ports, as well as onwards to US and European ports.
Source : HKSG.