01 December 2010
Cape Town has transitioned to RTG cranes as part of a Rand5.6bn expansion and efficiency programme.
Denis Gathanju reports
A major restructuring at the Port of Cape Town has, over the past few months, delivered increased efficiency at the port.
According to Transnet Port Terminal, the South African ports operator, increased cargo handling efficiency has been achieved thanks to the recent restructuring of its planning and operational structures in the Western Province as well as the merger of Cape Town’s container and multipurpose terminals.
Velile Dube, the Western Province terminal executive responsible for all TPT terminals in Cape Town and Saldanha, says the merger of the two terminals ensures guaranteed customer service while ensuring consistency in performance at the port. The merger also makes it easier for TPT in terms of utilisation of existing equipment, infrastructure and facilities at the port, he adds.
“We are now looking at berth availability and available infrastructure for the entire Cape Town Terminal, rather than at two separate terminals. So a container vessel can now come into the port and be berthed at either terminal, with the same TPT management and operations teams working to serve customers across the port,” he says.
Among some of the registered improvements at the port has been an increase in average gross crane hours; Mr Dube says Cape Town has achieved an increase from 22 GCH to 25 GCH.
GCH is an important determinant to the overall cost of doing business in any country and is a crucial factor for shipping operators. It is with this in mind that TPT intends to average 28 GCH at all container terminals in South Africa. The targets are part of TPT’s strategic plan that involves not only massive infrastructural upgrades at container ports but also employee improvement in terms of service delivery “to exceed customer expectations”.
The changes have also led to an increase in ship working hours from 39 SWH to 42 SWH. Truck turnaround times have also greatly improved, says Mr Dube; the average time between a truck entering and leaving the port for loading and/or offloading has been cut from more than 30 minutes to just under 23 minutes.
New handling equipment, including four super post-panamax ship-to-shore cranes and 16 rubber-tyred gantry cranes, has also contributed to increased port efficiency. The new STS cranes, faster than the older cranes and with twin-lift capability, give Cape Town a competitive edge, says Mr Dube. The STS and RTG purchases are part of an ambitious Rand5.6bn investment and expansion programme under way at the port.
The RTGs will allow for dense stacking of containers six rows wide, five containers high and 30 deep, make better use of space. The RTG blocks will have a total 6,900 teu slots, which represents a 40% increase in stack capacity at the terminal. Taken together, the improvements will double overall capacity at the terminal to about 1.4m teu by the end of 2012.
The planned delivery of an additional 16 RTGs by the end of this year, bringing the total to 32, complete the transition of the terminal from its former straddle carrier operation to full RTG facility.
To maintain the efficiency momentum, TPT has embarked on an intensive operator training programme. By the end of this year, it hopes to have trained a total of 83 RTG operators.