Shipping lines are being urged to provide detention relief as a strike at the wharf causes container havoc for Australian shippers and transport operators. Read more
Kalmar, part of Cargotec, has introduced a fully electric version of the Kalmar Empty Container Handler. The launch represents another step on the company’s journey towards offering an electric version of every product in its portfolio by 2021.
The all-electric machine is the latest addition to Kalmar’s Eco Range, which already includes the Kalmar Eco Reachstacker with a fuel-saving guarantee. In addition, Kalmar has already launched fully electric versions of its light and medium forklift trucks, Kalmar Ottawa terminal tractors, shuttle and straddle carriers, automated guided vehicles (AGV) and yard cranes.
Based on the Kalmar ECG90-180 medium electric forklift, the new machine is designed to help customers reduce overall fuel costs and comply with increasingly strict airborne and noise emissions standards without compromising on performance. It can stack containers up to four high and is available with a choice of battery technologies to ensure a clean, efficient lift every time. With fewer moving parts and lower rates of wear and tear than a diesel-powered machine, the Kalmar Electric Empty Container Handler is also simpler and more cost-effective to maintain.
The electric driveline provides full torque immediately and is smoother to operate than a diesel driveline, making operating cycles shorter and increasing the potential number of container moves per hour. Fully charged, the battery has enough power to last a whole shift.
Vice president of forklifts at Kalmar Stefan Hultqvist said: “We firmly believe that electricity is the power source of the future and have committed to make our full portfolio available as electrically powered by 2021. We have been developing electrically powered machine technology since the 1980s, and the Kalmar Electric Empty Container Handler is the latest in what will be a long line of eco-efficient solutions. We know that operational cycles differ from customer to customer, so we’re pleased to be able to offer a choice between lead-acid and lithium-ion battery technologies to allow customers to specify the option that best fits their requirements.
Wharfies in Sydney and Brisbane walked off the job for 24 hours on Friday (05/04) to protest Hutchison Ports ongoing refusal to move away from outsourcing of jobs and overseas remote controlling of already semi-automated equipment.
“Outsourcing our jobs for greater profit and remote controlling to workers who may be paid $2 per hour will continue to be challenged by the workforce and their union,” Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary Warren Smith said.
“Wharfies’ work is wharfies’ work and we will resist every effort to give that work to others regardless of how much or little they are paid, we suspect little in this case.”
The union has had several instances and clear cases of harassment identified in its Brisbane operation, drawing scathing criticism from the Queensland Branch.
MUA QLD assistant branch secretary Paul Petersen said: “This is not a fight about wages, this is a fight for basic conditions, job security and not having our jobs outsourced overseas. It’s about automation and not being replaced by a robot and most importantly it’s about being able to work in a safe environment free from harassment.”
The situation in Sydney has seen the constant and vigilant action of the MUA Sydney Branch save lives in an environment where safety is not treated with the priority it should be by Hutchison Ports.
MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer said: “Hutchison’s notorious anti-union agenda around the world is attempting to sink the wages and conditions, job security, and health and safety of wharfies in Sydney and Brisbane.
“Their plan to be the budget airways of Australian stevedores seeks to undermine decades of work to create jobs with justice and dignity, all so they can return more profits to one of the richest men on earth.
“The MUA will fight this billionaire for as long as it takes to win an Enterprise Agreement that our members can be proud of.”
Mr Smith blamed Hutchison management for forcing the hand of workers.
“Hutchison has not picked up the phone once to try and schedule meetings despite us having tried to do so,” he said.
“They tell blatant anti-union lies to their workforce to foster division and discontent.
“It’s the same tactics we see from this company all around the world and we’re a wake up to it and will fight it.”
Three container stevedore companies have amended their contracts with land transport businesses after the ACCC raised concerns that certain terms in each of these agreements may be unfair contract terms.
DP World Australia, Hutchison Ports Australia and Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) agreed, after the ACCC’s intervention, to remove or amend terms in their standard form contracts that the ACCC considered were likely to be considered ‘unfair’ within the meaning of the Australian Consumer Law.
DP World and Hutchison had contract terms that allowed a stevedore to unilaterally vary terms in the agreements without notice, including fees paid by the land transport operators.
DP World and Hutchison also had terms that limited their liability for loss or damage suffered by the transport businesses, while not offering the transport businesses the same protections. VICT’s contract had a term requiring transport businesses to indemnify VICT for loss or damage, with no reciprocal obligation on VICT.
DP World’s standard agreement also required the transport businesses to pay the stevedore’s legal costs and expenses, in circumstances where such payments would normally be determined by court order.
The three stevedores cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation and agreed to remove or amend the terms. Hutchison has made its commitments in a court enforceable undertaking and will also place a corrective notice on its website and put in place a compliance program.
Those contract terms which previously allowed the stevedore to amend the contract without notice have either been removed, or now require the stevedore to give 30 days’ notice of any changes, including for any price rises.
“Thousands of transport businesses, which have standard form agreements with DP World, Hutchison and VICT, stand to benefit from these changes,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“The handling of containers has a direct bearing on the cost of goods in Australia and the competitiveness of Australian exports, so it is crucial for businesses and consumers that the supply chain operates fairly and efficiently.”
The ACCC launched its investigation in early 2018 following concerns being raised about alleged unfair terms in contracts between container stevedores and land transport operators, such as rail and trucking businesses.
The ACCC’s 2018 Container Stevedore Monitoring Report noted the ACCC was assessing unfair contract terms within the industry. The ACCC has now concluded that assessment.
The court enforceable undertaking given by Hutchison can be found at Hutchison Ports Australia Pty Limited.
Australia’s largest rail freight operator has set in motion “a plan to revolutionise freight movements across the length and breadth of the country,” said Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle.
Mr Dalla Valle said Pacific National’s future goal is to offer its customers, including regional exporters, more efficient and productive connections to rail heads, ports, and intermodal freight terminals where trains and trucks meet.
“The spine of this network will comprise of the key freight hubs of Port Botany, Penrith, Parkes and Perth – what we like to call at Pacific National the ‘Four Ps’.
“Once the north-south Inland Rail is completed, the east-west spine at Parkes will have a faster and more efficient connection to the ports of Melbourne and Brisbane,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Pacific National is currently constructing inland regional Australia’s largest logistics terminal at Parkes (to run 1,800-metre freight trains double-stacked with containers to Perth), whilst also proposing the development of a major freight hub at St Marys, near Penrith.
Mr Dalla Valle said the proposed St Mary’s Freight Hub is located within Sydney’s biggest catchment area for many of the country’s largest national distribution centres and warehouses which service Western Sydney – one of the most populous and fast-growing regions in Australia.
“St Marys is located within close proximity to the key industrial and commercial estates of Eastern Creek, Erskine Park, Wetherill Park, Arndell Park, and Marsden Park; not to mention the future Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Mr Dalla Valle said the proposed St Marys Freight Hub is a stone’s throw from the M4 and M7 motorways and Great Western Highway and has direct access to the T1 Western Rail Line allowing for a 58-kilometre shuttle run between Port Botany.
“With up to five train shuttle services each day, Pacific National will rail a total of 300,000 containers between Port Botany and St Marys each year, removing between 70,000 and 80,000 truck movements from Sydney’s heavily congested road network,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Mr Dalla Valle said in the future, Pacific National’s St Marys Freight Hub will receive 1,200-metre regional trains from Parkes to be broken into 600-metre port shuttles to better access stevedoring terminals at Port Botany.
“The Penrith region will act as a conduit for regional freight between Western Sydney and Western NSW and further afield to Australia’s second largest port at Botany,” said Mr Dalla Valle.
Pending local and state government planning approvals, Pacific National aims to start construction of St Marys Freight Hub this year. First stage of the proposed freight hub development will support 60 full-time construction jobs.
When operational, the freight hub will create 150 new full-time jobs in Western Sydney.
‘When competition gets too close, release a report’ seems to be the tactic adopted by the current leaseholders/operators of Port Botany and Port Kembla, following a run of successes by the Port of Newcastle with the ACCC and in the media.
The report, by KPMG, on the “long-term container needs of NSW has confirmed Port Botany is the State’s key container port, and a new container terminal will not be needed until the mid-2040s”, they say.
The report claims the NSW Government’s container port strategy, which would see Port Kembla developed as the next container port in NSW to augment capacity at Port Botany, still stands as the most efficient and effective way of meeting the State’s container export and import demands.
The KPMG report, titled Quay conclusions: Finding the best choices for additional port capacity in NSW finds:
- Premature port investments will result in higher costs for NSW businesses and families;
- Port Kembla makes the most sense for containers, but only once Botany nears capacity; and,
- Containers at the Port of Newcastle makes the least sense for NSW and would impose the highest overall costs and offer the lowest overall benefit.
NSW Ports CEO, Marika Calfas, said Port Botany will remain the first choice in container freight. “Port Botany is closer, better and cheaper for most container freight in NSW.
“Port Botany is less than half full, is directly connected to dedicated freight rail, road and intermodal infrastructure and is supported by modern warehousing and logistics facilities in Sydney’s west and south west.
“The KPMG modelling shows Port Kembla is the obvious next choice for the state’s next container port, once Port Botany nears capacity.
“It is less than half the distance to Sydney’s booming west and south west and has better existing and planned freight infrastructure connections than a container terminal at Newcastle.
“It’s the population and business needs of NSW that determine the most efficient container terminal locations.
“NSW container ports are most efficient when close to consumers and connected to the market by good rail, road and intermodal infrastructure.
“Sydney and the south west population is set to grow from 5 million now to 6.5 million by 2036. Port Botany then Port Kembla makes sense as the ports to service this growth and is the right decision for the people and businesses of NSW,” Ms Calfas said.
The report found that 80 per cent of containers are consumed within 40 km of Port Botany, with massive Commonwealth, state and port investments made over the past 10 years to develop a major freight and logistics sector in Sydney’s west and south west growth areas.
According to KPMG’s research, the current proposal for a container port in Newcastle had significant issues including being furthest away from the freight consumption and employment growth in western Sydney and the most expensive to develop, connect and use for containers.
Even with massive taxpayer investments in rail and road projects, a container port at Newcastle would introduce thousands of heavy vehicles onto Newcastle’s streets, the F3 motorway and across Sydney, the report found.
Or does it?
The report is also notable for what it doesn’t reveal, although it is hardly surprising considering NSW Ports paid over $5 billion to the NSW Government for the pleasure of operating the two ports.
A joint study by the state and federal governments into a rail freight bypass of Sydney was reported in February 2012 (page 37). A container terminal at the Port of Newcastle would provide the container cargo to pay for the new line.
Long-time Port of Newcastle proponent Greg Cameron said: “The [KPMG] report says it was commissioned in August 2018. The purpose of the report is to justify government policy that sees Port Botany as the state’s only port for container ships.
“Port of Newcastle Investments has been making the point that a container terminal will be built if the infamous fee is removed. There is plenty of demand from northern NSW to support a Newcastle container terminal.”
Mr Cameron further said: “ ‘Determining an estimate of public expenditure required to overcome rail constraints between Sydney and Newcastle is difficult, given that transport agencies have not released their estimates,’ KPMG says. Presumably, the studies are confidential because they relate to the commercial viability of building a rail freight bypass of Sydney.
“A container terminal at the Port of Newcastle would provide the base load cargo for privately building and operating a rail freight line to serve all of NSW, not just Sydney.
“Port Botany is the state’s only port with the dedicated facilities required by container ships. Every container ship that visits NSW must use Port Botany. At present, container transportation requires one million truck trips a year at Port Botany. By 2040, the estimated number of container truck trips will be 5 million a year.
“The reason why 85 per cent of containers are delivered within 50 km of Port Botany is because trucking is the highest cost method of transporting containers. The lowest cost method of container transportation is by rail.
“A rail freight bypass line would enable a container terminal established at the Port of Newcastle to operate interchangeably with a container terminal established at Port Kembla. Every container would be railed.
“Intermodal terminals would be established along the rail freight bypass line to maximise logistics efficiency.
“Intermodal terminals established in regional areas would enable very long term planning of the state’s future economic development based on rail transportation of containerised goods,” Mr Cameron said.
A reduction in empty container park capacity, larger numbers of containers being handled, and a high level of import empty container ‘re-directions’ by shipping lines, are causing significant additional empty container handling costs in Sydney.
CTAA director Neil Chambers said: “The empty container management situation in Sydney has been getting progressively worse over a number of months now.
“For many container transport operators, it has reached the stage where they cannot fully absorb the additional costs.
“A conservative estimate is that the additional costs being borne by transport operators in managing empty containers in Sydney are between $90 to $200 per container, depending on the level of delay and additional handling necessary.”
Staging of empty containers via transport yards: added costs
Gate capacity and available truck arrival slots are at a premium at some key Sydney empty container parks (ECP) given the numbers being directed to those facilities by shipping lines. This is amplified when the ECP do not operate regularly after hours or on weekends.
Therefore the vast majority of empty containers must be staged through transport yards to manage the task.
This results in additional costs:
- Container lift-on / lift off – container staging.
- Additional administration and yard planning.
- Additional truck kilometres and one-way truck travel with reduced opportunities to backload.
In many instances, transport operators are unable to book sufficient truck arrival slots at designated ECP in a timely manner, leading to de-hire delays and significant risks that empty containers might attract container detention fees from shipping lines for late return.
Empty container re-directions with little notice
“A significant contributor to the higher costs of empty container management in Sydney are the number and frequency of empty container ‘re-directions’ that are ordered at the discretion of the shipping lines with little notice.” observed Neil Chambers.
Port Botany is Australia’s empty container ‘re-direction capital’, with over 30 re-direction notices current every day, equating to hundreds of re-directions per month. By contrast, this is more than double the number of re-directions in Melbourne.
“Empty containers destined for one ECP, or for direct wharf de-hire, are suddenly re-directed to another location, causing significant planning difficulties for transport operators who must adjust their fleet and job allocations at the last minute.
“These re-directions are occurring solely to suit the shipping lines that want the empty containers sent to a specific location for their next use, including to meet regional rail export empty demands or for international empty repatriation, rather than the shipping line being responsible for the costs of repositioning the empty at a later date.
“That’s all well and good, but the lack of sufficient notice penalises others in the container logistics chain through higher import empty container handling and transport costs. To make matters worse, the lack of sufficient operational notice of these re-directions means that trucks with a valid ECP arrival notification, based on the original de-hire location specified by the shipping line, are being turned away because a re-direction has been put in place last minute.”
“This results in futile truck trips, added truck kilometres travelled, more one-way under-utilisation of trucks, the need to constantly rearrange empty containers stacked in transport yards, and de-hire time delays.”
Mr Chambers noted: “The lack of sufficient notice of re-directions, and the practice of not honouring original legitimate truck bookings at ECP because a re-direction has been ordered, is unacceptable to container transport operators.
“We are calling on all shipping lines and their ECP providers to give at least 24 hours’ notice of any empty container re-directions as well as a clear end-date for the re-direction.”
The administration of these re-direction notices is made more difficult where shipping lines do not provide electronic data to their ECP providers and through the Containerchain notification system, meaning that fleet allocators must manage and monitor re-direction notices manually.
This can result in futile truck trips to the wrong ECP if emailed re-direction notices are missed.
Unrealistic container detention timeframes & claims
Despite the increased delays in managing import empty container de-hires effectively, there is no incentive for shipping lines to extend container detention-free time to importers.
Container detention time restrictions are more likely to be exceeded as a result of the current delays and inefficiencies in Sydney.
“Shipping lines would be making an absolute killing at present with container detention revenue, some of which will have been incurred because of the strict policies of the shipping lines themselves leading to a lack of de-hire flexibility, last minute de-hire re-directions, and little cooperation with shippers on the extension of detention-free time.
“That is particularly perverse,” Mr Chambers noted. “Many transport operators apply business rules with their importer / forwarder customers requiring adequate business-day notification that import containers are ready for empty de-hire.
“In addition, however, transport companies are increasingly unwilling to accept container detention claims liability passed to them by their customers when the delays in de-hire are outside of their control. This is a matter for negotiation between transport operators and their direct customers.
“Transport operators aren’t a direct party to the Bill of Lading contract between the importer and shipping line on empty container detention terms and conditions.”
“So, it’s not up to the transport company to seek relief from container detention fees. And nor should it be up to the transport company to pay any container detention bills post the event when the delays in de-hire were beyond their control or not realistic in the timeframes imposed.”
“In the current circumstances in Sydney, made worse also by the fumigation delays caused by the widespread measures to address the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) biosecurity threat, it is not unrealistic for import containers to be taking more than 15 to 20 days from the date of discharge to be able to be returned empty.”
“Container detention claims prior to that are equally unrealistic.” concluded Neil Chambers.
“It is even more imperative that when delays threaten a breach of the shipping lines’ imposed container detention policies, importers and forwarders – the customers of the shipping lines – should be proactive in:
- Seeking an extension of the ‘free time’ from the shipping line for the return of the empty container; and/or
- Requesting that the shipping line allow the container to be de-hired into an ECP or wharf facility with more flexible de-hire arrangements and longer opening hours.
“There are several ECP in Sydney that open longer hours. Importers, forwarders and their transport providers should be more proactive in convincing shipping lines that they will direct the empty de-hires there, instead of suffering delays in trying to de-hire to nominated facilities that are congested or have limited opening hours.”
CTAA Alliance companies are discussing the current delays and inefficiencies with the ECP in Sydney, shipping lines, NSW Ports, Transport for NSW and the NSW Government.
Trucks awaiting entry to one of Port Botany’s container yards. ABC photo.
Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) says it is unfair that truck operators already reeling from mounting port access fees have now been slugged with new charges for pick-ups and drop-offs at Sydney container parks.
From February 1, if a truck arrives at DP World Logistics more than 60 minutes prior to the start of the nominated ‘Notification Window’, the carrier will be forced to pay an ‘Off Window Surcharge’ of $25.50 per booking. If a truck arrives more than 60 minutes after the end of the nominated slot, the carrier will also incur the same $25.50 ‘Off Window Surcharge’. If a truck arrives within its ‘Notification Window’, the charge will be $16.50.
RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara said its members are asking why the new surcharges are being imposed on carriers given that the operation of empty container parks appear to be “inefficient, unproductive and haphazard”.
“It’s a new year and another new surcharge for truck operators,” Mr O’Hara said. “Our members are angry and frustrated they’ve been hit with further fees which are making their daily operations unsustainable.
“Notification windows for truck arrivals aren’t always available at short notice and it’s unfair that the length of time drivers may sit waiting in the rank waiting to be processed isn’t taken in to account when these surcharges are being applied.
“That’s why our members believe the penalties are unwarranted and yet another cost impost, on top of the new DP World infrastructure fee of $63.80 per container at the Port Botany terminal, which came in to effect on January 1.
“The quantum of these charges is impacting carriers and making it harder and harder for them to run their businesses.”
Mr O’Hara said RFNSW will be meeting with DP World Logistics today in order to raise its concerns on behalf of its members.
The cooltainer installed by Agricool in Dubai. © Agricool.
Founded in 2015 in Paris, Agricool aims to create urban farms in recycled containers. With its innovative agricultural model, the young company wishes to produce fruit and vegetables without pesticides, picked and sold on the same day and prioritising short circuits. Several containers are currently being tested.
In Paris, Agricool grows strawberries by saving 90% of water and nutrients compared to classical agricultural methods and uses renewable energy only. These strawberries contain an average of 20% more sugar and 30% more vitamin C than retail store strawberries.
In 2018, shipping conglomerate the CMA CGM Group provided its first concrete support to Agricool by offering technical and logistical support for the delivery and installation of a ‘cooltainer’ in Dubai.
In December, Agricool completed a €25 million fundraising campaign to finance the industrialisation of its innovative project. On this occasion, CMA CGM acquired an equity stake in the company through its investment fund, CMA CGM Ventures.
In parallel, CMA CGM wants to support Agricool’s development by providing it with its industrial and logistics expertise. The group thus becomes the main supplier of containers and the primary logistics and supply partner of this young company.
Senior vice president of the container logistics department of the CMA CGM Group Joël Gentil said: “With this partnership, the CMA CGM Group confirms its commitment to support the development of start-ups that innovate in a relevant way. In line with our commitment to sustainable development, this solution allows us to recycle containers and give them a second life.”