Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Any text that underscores operations at ports shouldn’t be left to gather dust, finds Dave MacIntyre.
Credit: Port of Duqm
Rules, regulations and bylaws – they may be the unseen framework under which ports work, but rather than being seen as a chore to compile and then being packed away in a dusty file never to be viewed again, regular strategic reviews of these documents can lead to significant improvements in efficiency, productivity and safety.
Bylaws or regulations may control anything from operational controls and berth occupancy to pollution, pricing and safety and while different ports – and different regulatory authorities – approach the subject in varying ways, there are some striking examples of how reviews can bear fruit.
The Port of Duqm in Oman has deep draft, lengthy quay walls and an expansive basin, and as the principal anchor of a planned huge Special Economic Zone, could develop into one of the Middle East's largest ports.
It is drafting port rules for its liquid jetties and has selected Netherlands-based Systems Navigator to analyse the impact of its rules from a logistics perspective, to maximise port capacity.
Systems Navigator specialises in advanced and predictive decision-support technology, using simulation modelling to demonstrate the impact of change. It analysed and compared multiple port scenarios. By quantifying the impact of different rules, the project team developed performance indicators, such as berth occupancy and waiting times.
It identified risks for waiting times and recommended preferred rules which would have the lowest impact on them. Additionally, the team drafted berthing procedures and queuing priority rules.
Joost Smits of Systems Navigator says that port rules, such as vessel priority or the maximum allowed time at berth, have a major impact on berth utilisation and waiting times – and therefore on customer satisfaction and return on investment.
“We analysed future port scenarios based on various port rules. The scenarios included, among others, fleet mix, planned product throughput and vessel priority settings. Port rules showing a low impact on vessel waiting time while being able to facilitate a large port throughput were recommended.”
Mr Smits says other ports could benefit from regularly reviewing their bylaws and rules: “Ports should check if their own (commercial/logistical) port rules are not a bottleneck for improving port performance. Fleets change (megaships, cruise ships, LNG bunkering etc.) and ports should understand how this affects their performance.
“A quick check of the port performance doesn't require a large investment if the proper simulation company is asked to do this.”
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