South African state-owned port operator, Transnet Port Terminals, is continuing with an aggressive and focused recovery plan aimed at reducing port bottlenecks and boosting the operational performance of Pier 2 at the Durban Container Terminal (DCT).
Said Hector Danisa, the Terminal Executive Manager for Durban Container Terminals: “Most of the productivity issues and downtime in 2011 related to technical issues following the national rollout of the new NAVIS Sparcs N4 terminal operating system, with which Transnet was the first worldwide to operate multiple marine and rail terminals from a central server.”
“TPT initially worked closely with the NAVIS software manufacturers to iron out the issues, and then set out to introduce a recovery plan to industry and other stakeholders last year. This plan was aimed at stabilising the terminal from August 2011 and growing the business thereafter by encouraging improvement in key areas such human capital, equipment and planning,” he added.
To date the Ship Working Hour (SWH) performance at the terminal had reached a high of 53 at DCT’s two prime berths. This was an improvement on the low of 44 moves experienced shortly after the introduction of NAVIS in April 2011, but still not at the aspirational level of 75 at which the terminal is committed to operating. SWH is the performance measure used by customers which relates to the number of containers moved by the number of cranes working the vessel in one hour.
Gross crane moves per crane per hour (GCH) had improved from an aggregate of 18 GCH following the NAVIS launch to around 22 GCH presently. This is still short of the internal target of 28 GCH. Hence operator training and equipment upgrades are being targeted through an accelerated capital expenditure and investment programme spearheaded by Transnet Group.
Truck turnaround time, for trucks to enter the terminal’s gate, collect or drop off cargo and exit the terminal, had averaged at 32 minutes in January 2012 against a target of 35 minutes.
Stack occupancy, which measures the degree of congestion in the container stacking yard, had improved from 74% post NAVIS launch to 61% presently against the norm of about 65%.
Danisa said TPT had also overhauled its management team at DCT to tackle challenges. Staff initiatives that include training programmes, mentorship and performance initiatives were underway, as were efforts to reduce absenteeism.
DCT achieved its target of having 15 gangs (operational teams) in place by the end of 2011 to improve productivity. A total of one hundred and forty (140) new Operators of Lifting Equipment (OLEs) were recruited from July to December 2011. These OLEs man the fleet of Straddle Carriers used to move containers between terminal vehicles and the stacking yard. Twenty more OLEs will be recruited during the first quarter of the 2012 financial year, effective April 2012, to replace retiring operators. In the meantime other initiatives, including cross functional training initiatives and mentorship of OLEs, are taking place to ensure sustainability in the long term.
Transnet’s accelerated capital expenditure plan aims to reduce the impact of breakdowns due to ageing equipment at DCT. The terminal has taken delivery of 28 new diesel-electric Straddle Carriers, 14 of which have twin-lift capability. These were commissioned in December 2011.
DCT is ahead of schedule in its programme of refurbishing 30 other second generation straddle carriers by May 2012, with 17 completed and the balance on schedule for completion as per project commitment. The next refurbishment of straddles is currently being finalised for implementation from Quarter 3 of 2012.
Currently two ship-to-shore cranes are being refurbished and another two will also be undergoing refurbishment from May 2012. This initiative is in addition to the seven new tandem lift ship-to-shore cranes that have been procured, delivery of which will begin in Quarter 4 of 2012. Various initiatives have also begun around training, procurement and engineering in preparation for the arrival of the cranes.
Major initiatives taking place on the landside part of operations include the launch of a pre-advice system for both Pier 1 and Pier 2 aimed at improving planning of work and enhancing security in managing containers in the Port. A full rollout will take place on 1 March 2012. The next project will be the implementation of a truck booking system scheduled for later in 2012. The truck booking system should improve the scheduling of road cargo and lead to improved productivity in the logistics chain. Again projects leading up to this have already started in the port resulting in improved truck turn-around time.