With COVID-19 protocols and a busy shipping season, how are cargo ports faring?

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In our previous data story, we took a deep dive into port and anchorage activity from August to November in the US, specifically at the Port of Los Angeles and PortMiami. These ports have been making headlines during the busy holiday period where container imports are at an all-time high. But it’s not just the US that has been affected by COVID-19 and the holiday season, this is a busy time for container cargo worldwide. We pulled data from two notoriously busy ports to see if turnaround times and traffic were on the rise.

For this story, we wanted to see if we could find any noteworthy comparisons.

The Port of Rotterdam

We briefly mentioned this port in the conclusion of the previous data story as being one of the key leaders in digitalization.

The largest seaport in Europe, the Port of Rotterdam suffered a sharp decline in traffic for the first six months of the year, but has seen an increase, particularly in container traffic, since August.

Container ships count – Port of Rotterdam

A slight drop-off in traffic in November is charted below, but prior to November, the flow of containerships was consistent and median time spent in port also remained steady.

Median duration in port – Port of Rotterdam

A stark contrast in both ship count and median duration at port between Port of Rotterdam and Port of Los Angeles, where the former handles 100-150 containerships a week and maintains a median duration of around 24 hours, and the latter handles 15-25 containerships a week with median duration ranging from 65 to 120 hours! When you consider that the number of containerships at Rotterdam outnumber the number of ships at the Port of Los Angeles by three times, yet they are able to keep time at port to 24 hours, it highlights exactly how efficient Rotterdam is.

Anchorage – Container ships count – Port of Rotterdam

The efficiency of these quick turnaround times at port are also demonstrated in anchorage. The Port of Rotterdam has a higher anchorage capacity, however, the duration is not higher than half a day in this busy period.

Anchorage – Median duration in hours – Port of Rotterdam

Rotterdam is a port known for its efficient processes and services as well as use of technology to manage the high volume of ships berthing at the seaport. The port continues to set the standard for deep sea terminal design and innovative technology. There are of course other factors to consider when comparing port activity and evaluating efficiency, but the data doesn’t lie.

Hong Kong

The Port of Hong Kong is a deep water port and serves as the major hub for the Southeast and East Asian regions. It is one of the busiest container ports in the world and offers dry-docks, anchorages, slipways, and repair and maintenance facilities. The Port of Hong Kong and the Port of Singapore struggled with COVID-19 outbreaks in August, which impacted performance at both busy ports, but a quick intervention and stricter COVID protocols saw the ports back on track by the fall of 2020, although congestion persists at the Port of Hong Kong.

Container ships count – Port 0f Hong Kong

Median duration in port – Port 0f Hong Kong

In comparison to the US and Europe, the data shown for the Port of Hong Kong is just astounding; the number of ships is almost double that of the Port of Rotterdam, yet the median duration during that busy time is almost a straight line at 12 hours.

Anchorage – Container ships count – Port 0f Hong Kong

Anchorage – Median duration in hours – Port 0f Hong Kong

The high volumes of ships in anchorage are equally managed efficiently, ranging from 2 to 6 hours during October and November 2020.

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What’s Next?

As ports around the world are making headlines due to COVID-19 disruptions, ever-growing customer demand and the busy holiday period, it is interesting to look at how different ports are coping and for ship owners and supply chain management knowing when ships enter and exit ports, and the anchorage, is crucial to maintaining operations and reducing costs. You can book a consultation if you would like to know more about our Port and Anchorage notification features and AIS data plans. Or if you are interested in acquiring the containership archive for this period you can visit our data store.

Read also:
Port of Los Angeles: Data shows ships stood still for 5 days in November 2020

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