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An assessment of port productivity at South African container port terminals.

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The increasing intermodal sophistication and globalisation of the international container shipping industry, as well as increased competition on container throughput between major ports, requires container terminals to continuously improve their efficiency in relation to productivity and performance. This dissertation seeks to examine and analyse productivity data over a period of time, in order to determine port productivity trends at three main container terminals in South Africa. Given the existing infrastructure and available resources at the container port terminals, the research further analyses the gaps between expected or targeted performance against actual productivity trends to date. It further tests current performance levels against international benchmarks and makes recommendation on productivity optimisation and best practice. This study is motivated by the rapid development and a dire need in container terminal port operations to provide efficient and effective services as well as high port productivity. In South Africa, port productivity is still seen as suboptimal in global terms and it is for this reason that South African container terminals continue to seek improvement in achieving quicker port turnaround times. The literature review highlights thoughts and opinions on previous research as far as the formula for efficient and effective port productivity is concerned. When measuring port productivity, a number of factors need strategic integrations and a balanced approach. These include ship turnaround times, port superstructure performance, stowage plans, labour dynamics, information flow between various stakeholders, yard management and cost of operations. This research identifies crane performance and ship work-rate performance as the major indicators of productivity at the respective terminals. In the South African port terminals context, these two indicators were lower than targeted for. This is due to a number of reasons including lack of the full utilization of the current crane regime, equipment downtime, poor coordination between the operator and shippers, inefficient landside operations as well as labour inefficiency. This study therefore recommends that the port terminal operator should put the current infrastructure into full utilization, adhere to maintenance schedules of all terminal equipment with improved training regimes within a more skilled labour force. There is a need to enhance landside capacity and layout. This research contends that this would contribute towards shorter port stays and improved vessel turnaround times.


Master of Science in Maritime studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville 2015.


Marine terminals--South Africa--Durban--Management., Harbors--South Africa--Durban., Cargo handling--Management., Loading and unloading--South Africa--Durban--Management., Containerization--South Africa--Durban--Management., Theses--Maritime studies., Port productivity.