Application of a critical systems approach to understanding ship turnaround in the Port of Durban.
Seaborne container shipping plays a major and important role in the world transportation system and the global supply chain. Shipping lines have designed their product offering to shippers around providing regular calls at designated ports. This works well for most firms that operate on a just-in-time philosophy. The real costs of trade – the transport and other costs of doing business internationally – are important determinants of a country’s ability to participate fully in the world economy. This is an important indicator for port performance in a globalised economy; therefore, any inefficiency that increases costs must be addressed. This means that ports have to ensure very high productivity and efficiency levels so that ships have a quick turnaround. Clark et al., (2002) conclude that a 50% improvement in port efficiency can reduce shipping costs by about 12%. The general question that is studied in this research is: How can the Marine Services within the Port of Durban assist in reducing ship turnaround times? This study seeks to determine what role the marine services plays in ship turnaround. The analysis in this study will be to determine the source of delays and ways to improve on efficiency. The resultant improvement in efficiency should lead to a possible reduction in shipping costs. The Market Demand Strategy employed by Transnet in 2012 must be implemented in such a manner that it must not only address the current infrastructural backlogs but it must also endeavour to alleviate several logistic chain bottlenecks that tend to constrain the economy. When analysing 2010-2011 a worrying trend emerges that the average waiting times for ships at anchor has increased significantly and the time on the berth has also increased significantly despite a reduction in the number of ships calling to the port. This is partly due to the fact that much larger ships now arriving at the port and more crucially are working a larger number of containers per port call. However, there is still concern about the operational efficiency of the terminals in the port (Pier One and Durban Container Terminal). The Marine Operations service times have also increased marginally 1.23% (0.98 hours) but this is due to longer time required for berthing and sailing of larger ships. This study has clearly shown that the Marine Operations within the Port of Durban do not significantly impact on overall ship turnaround time. However, there are areas of improvement that can be implemented to ensure high service levels within the port. By increasing the tug fleet and ensuring adequate human resources, the service offering can immediately be improved. Extremely lengthy anchorage waiting times and high berth occupancy impact negatively on ship-owners, shippers, and the economy at large. The Port Authority must interrogate these areas to understand clearly what is driving these extended times and determine strategies and performance measures to mitigate these.
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