Evaluating efficiency of top global container ports

Efficiency Evaluation of Global 20 Major Container Ports Based on AIS Data

As the port customer, the shipping company would like to judge the service quality of a port in two aspects: time and cost, and even will be more sensitive to time requirements. The service efficiency of the port can be reflected by the time cost of the ship in port. In general, the services provided by the port for ships can be divided into two categories: berth loading and unloading services and ancillary services. Therefore, this paper focus on the efficiency analysis of berth loading and unloading services and also the ancillary services.

This paper selects the container ports ranking high in terms of container throughput as the research objects. The original data is collected from the ships engaged in international route from January to December 2017.  


1. Berth Loading and Unloading Time Cost Analysis 

(1) The berth loading and unloading time cost of arrival ships in each port is very close.

The berth loading and unloading time cost of ship is relative with the amount of containers that the ship handled in a port. However, it is meaningful to compare the loading and unloading time cost of similar type ships for the ports with same throughput scale. According to the research, it can be found that the port in the same throughput scale has similar performance in terms of berth loading and unloading time. For example, for a ship of 0-4,000 TEU, the berth loading and unloading time is about 8-15 hours, and for a 4,000-8,000TEU ship, it is usually about 10-16 hours. The efficiency of loading and unloading operations is closely related to the number of shore bridges and operating systems of port. And with the development of technology, the technical differences in global major container ports are tiny, so there is no significant difference in berth loading and unloading efficiency. 

 (2) The berth loading and unloading time of American ports is higher than that of others.

Among the 20 major container ports in the world, the berth loading and unloading efficiency of American ports is significantly lower than that of other ports. For example, for a container ship of 0-4,000 TEU, the berth loading and unloading time of several ports in the United States is almost three times than that of the most efficient port. And a ship on or above 8,000 TEU needs stay in berths for up to 7 days. Although compared with Chinese ports, US ports have relatively high loading and unloading capacity for a single large ship, but the difference between the scale and time is not proportional.

 (3)China's major container ports has higher loading and unloading efficiency.

On the contrast, the loading and unloading efficiency of the main container ports in China is generally high, and the operation of container ports in other regions is relatively backward. On one hand, China's container ports above designated size are densely distributed, which divert the volume of container ships, resulting in a relatively short loading and unloading time for single ships at berth. On the other hand, technology and operation level of Chinese ports are indeed leading the world, and the short berth loading and unloading time cost is a relatively favorable proof.

(4) The longer time for ships in Singapore Port is due to its comprehensive service supply.

Compared with other international container hubs such as Hong Kong Port and Shanghai Port, the loading and unloading time for ships in Singapore Port is relatively long. The main reason is that Singapore Port is an international supply port, which can provide other services, including ship supply and maintenance after the ship is docked. According to statistics, after arrival in Singapore Port, 36.2% vessels carried out refueling and loading and unloading services at the same time, 4.5 percent of vessels carried out cargo handling and material supply, 10.8% of the vessels carried out the above three services, while just 32.8% vessels only for cargo handling.


2. Port Auxiliary Service Time Cost Analysis

Port auxiliary services include towing, pilotage, mooring, port inspection, etc. Therefore, by processing AIS data, the time statistics of ships from entering the port to leaving the port with the loading and unloading time eliminating are collected. 

(1)  Small ships operations often require more mooring time.

It can be found that container ships below 4,000 TEU generally require longer non-berthing auxiliary service time than other types’ ship. The global major container hub ports often take precedence over the calling of large ships. Therefore, the time cost of small vessels in port is often affected under the limitation of berth.

(2) Auxiliary service time is longer for the ports at the junction of rivers and seas

Port of Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp, and Guangzhou have longer auxiliary service time for each type of ship than other ports. The reason is that the distribution of the berths is dumbbell-shaped, except for the berths at outermost seaside piers, some berths are located in the places where the ships need longer time to pass through. And the service such as towing and pilotage often need a long time for ships. The ports located in the inland rivers are often berthed by small vessels below 4,000 TEU due to water depth restrictions. 

(3) American Ports performed more efficiency in port auxiliary services. 

Although the loading and unloading time is longer for the ships operated in the ports of United State, the auxiliary service time is shorter and the relative efficiency is higher than that of others. For example, the Port of New York & New Jersey, and the Port of Los Angeles ranked in the top ten by auxiliary operation time, and even ranked top five under special ship type among the global 20 major ports.


3. Arrival Vessels’ Structure Analysis of Global 20 Major Container Ports

Click to enlarge


(1) Singapore Port is the busiest port in the world.

Judging from the scale of arrival ships, these 20 ports can be divided into three echelons. The first echelon, represented by Singapore Port, Shanghai Port, Shenzhen Port, Hong Kong Port, Busan Port and Ningbo Port, can reach more than 10,000 of container vessels in 2017. Rotterdam Port, Kaohsiung Port, Qingdao Port and Xiamen Port form the second echelon with the number of ship arrival between 5,000 and 10,000 ships. Antwerp Port, Tianjin Port, Guangzhou Port, Dubai Port, Tanjung Pelepas Port, Hamburg Port, Dalian Port, Port of New York and New Jersey, Port of Los Angeles, and Port of Long Beach are the third echelon, with less than 5,000 ship arrival in 2017. Among those ports, Singapore Port is undoubtedly the busiest port in terms of the number of arrival ships.

(2) Shenzhen Port, Shanghai Port, Singapore Port, and Ningbo Port are the typical handling ports for very-large ships.

According to the analysis of statistical data, the very-large vessels on or above 12,000 TEU are mainly engaged in the Asia-Europe route. For the number of arrival ships on or above 12,000 TEU, each of Shenzhen Port, Shanghai Port, Singapore Port and Ningbo Port has more than 1,000 callings in 2017. Shenzhen unexpectedly became the most popular port to call for the ships on or above 12,000 TEU. Furthermore, in East Asia, and the container ships on or above 18,000 TEU can only be handled in Shenzhen Port, Shanghai Port, Ningbo Port and Hong Kong Port.