WESTERN AUSTRALIA SPECIAL REPORT: Making hay while the sun shines


“Despite the end of iron ore exports, Fremantle Port has had a record year across the board as a hub for agricultural and containerised products, as well as motor vehicles.

Fremantle Ports’ total container and non-containerised trade was up in 2017-18, ahead of projections and indicates a growth in consumer confidence as the Western Australian economy picks up, according to the port’s CEO Chris Leatt-Hayter.

Mr Leatt-Hayter told Daily Cargo News Fremantle Ports had been successful in identifying new trades for its bulk handling facilities and adding value for some existing customers.

“Some of the spare capacity occurring as a result of the cessation of iron ore exports has been taken up by the export of bauxite and silica sands, with further potential trade identified,” he said.

It’s for horses
Containerised trade (769,686 TEU) was up by 7.5%, with the export of hay experiencing the highest growth of all commodities in 2017-18; hay is Fremantle Ports’ principal containerised export commodity.

Although most of the wheat and other grain shipped from Fremantle Port is in bulk via Cooperative Bulk Handling’s grain jetty at Kwinana, there is a substantial trade in containerised exports through the inner harbour terminals.

The port has commissioned a new study to provide information on the origin and destinations of containers being transported to and from Fremantle Port.

“The results, updating findings of a similar study in 2012, will enable the port to highlight logistics developments of significance to our supply chain partners,” Mr Leatt-Hayter said.

“It will assist in providing direction for further in-depth work to improve supply chain efficiency.”
Container export growth in 2018-19 is expected to be positive. Oaten hay harvests in 2018 are tipped to be favourable due to good rainfall,” he said.

“WA-grown oats are well sought after by overseas markets. Higher demand for grain and hay exports from Western Australia is likely due to expected low yields in the currently drought affected east coast.”
Fremantle Ports’ non-containerised sector has also performed strongly in 2017-18. The total throughput of non-containerised cargo in the inner harbour was up by 20% compared with the previous year.

Imports increased 35.2% mainly due to the commodities of iron and steel, new motor vehicles and industrial and agricultural vehicles. Exports increased 6.1% compared with last year mainly due to an increase in scrap metal.

Fremantle also saw an increase in new motor vehicle imports from Japan, Thailand and South Korea, up 9.3% year-on-year.

Looking to the future
Fremantle Port has its eyes to the future and is currently collecting data and analysing a number of markers that will improve the business in coming years.

For example, the Port is working with Fremantle Pilots to model the handling characteristics of larger vessels expected in the future so that possible vessel size constraints can be identified and appropriately addressed. The pilot company has also been assisting Fremantle Ports with navigation modelling as part of the planning of future port developments.

“Currently, Fremantle Ports can handle the largest container ships servicing Australian ports and modelling has shown that there is capacity to accommodate further increase in vessel size,” Mr Leatt-Hayer said.

In recent months the port has undertaken environmental surveys of cruise ships which now have been extended to all types of visiting vessels on a voluntary basis.

Mr Leatt-Hayter said the online surveys were helping understand the technical capabilities of vessels and which emerging technologies are being implemented in line with global initiatives to reduce emissions from the shipping industry.

“In addition to questions regarding fuel and emissions, the survey topics include ballast water systems, hull cleaning, general waste storage, noise management and environmental certifications,” Mr Leatt-Hayter said, adding the data collected will be analysed for trends.

Fremantle Port was one of just two of Australia’s first commercial LNG bunkering operations, established by EVOL LNG in 2017.

Singapore currently offers a 25% reduction in port fees for LNG-powered ships with an additional 10% reduction if they use LNG-powered tugs. Proponents claim LNG is cleaner than marine diesel, emitting 25% less CO2, 80% less NOx, almost no SOx and zero particulates.

Freo on the landside
The share of Fremantle Ports’ container trade travelling to and from the inner harbour by rail also continues to grow. The Western Australian government increased the per-box subsidy to encourage this growth and in 2017-18 the rail share was at 16.1%.

While the use of rail eases truck congestion, Fremantle has also achieved success with its Truck Control System (TCS). The organisation collected several awards at the WA Transport, Supply Chain and Logistics Awards held in May for this system at North Quay designed to minimise and manage heavy vehicle congestion.

Since 2010, Fremantle Ports has been focusing on minimising congestion and resultant delays and queuing in the North Quay-Rous Head area of the Fremantle inner harbour.

Several individual system elements have been developed and combined to become the TCS.

Detection and reporting elements, such as a vehicle detection system and queuing control system, provide the operational intelligence to provide health checks on the system.

Where issues arise, these systems provide warnings to allow actions to be taken.

“If congestion develops to the point where the on-port operations require relief, a congestion management system is used to divert vehicles away to safe areas while the congestion is rapidly tackled,” Mr Leatt-Hayter said.

The automated messaging and direct-to-driver telematics-powered driver information service also provides immediate information to allow transport operators to make timely, informed decisions.

“The TCS has been effective in avoiding congestion and increasing trucking efficiency,” Mr Leatt-Hayter said.

Fremantle Ports is closely involved in the Westport Port and Environs planning process initiated by the state government to ensure that future trade needs for metropolitan Perth and surrounding areas can be met.

“Outcomes will guide port and landside development over the long term to cater for future demand,” Mr Leatt-Hayer said.

“This provides certainty for our customers, port service providers and others key stakeholders within the supply chain and more broadly is essential to promote increased investment.”

Article credit of The Daily Cargo News Online. September 18th 2018.

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