Seaports face pressure to concentrate on throughput

New focus changes from port capacity to through-put capacity

By ·

In the not-so-distant past the great cargo seaports in our global marketplace were fairly fixed destinations, with little incentive to change. 

Several disruptive developments on the horizon will alter that scenario.

Rich Thompson, Managing Director of JLL’s Ports Airports and Global Infrastructure (PAGI) group, told LM in a recent interview that shippers should expect to see fierce competition among ocean cargo gateways in the near future.

“Steamship lines are transitioning to larger and larger ships given the economies of scale involved,” he noted. “The ports must be able to accommodate these larger ships by establishing an environment for connectivity and more efficient throughput.  This changes the focus from port capacity to throughput capacity.”

That means better automation, longer gate hours, and better IT, but it also means having a more complete integrated vertical real estate solution to connect to the port system, said Thompson. 

“The ports capable of handling the increased volumes at the dock must also have the capability of efficiently and effectively moving the containers to industrial distribution center markets. This is the key to success.”

Like many other analysts, Thompon observed that when the Panama Canal expansion is completed by 2015, larger ships will become the norm rather than the exception.

“We expect more competition at seaports offering the infrastructure to handle the larger ships and their inventory at one time,” he said. “We are seeing many of our corporate clients formally re-evaluating their distribution networks.”

The good news for ocean cargo transport providers, he said, is that with freight costs expected to continue to increase, “ocean shipping continues to be a cost effective and viable mode of transportation.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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