Modernization drives flow boost for India’s BMCT

Modernization drives flow boost for India’s BMCT

BMCT processed 1,433 moves, accounting for 2,099 TEU, in just seven hours on July 29, an average crane rate of 210 moves per hour. Photo credit: PSA India.

Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals (BMCT), PSA International's high-stakes investment at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), is amping up productivity efforts to lure more regular calls as mainline carriers increasingly seek cost optimization in challenging market conditions.

Powered by automated harbor cranes and other modern infrastructure, the flagship terminal last week created a new productivity record for the facility — touted as the best performance at an Indian port in recent years since the dawn of large-size calls.

On a July 29 call from the APL Korea, one of six vessels deployed in the intra-Asia CI-1 (China-India) loop, BMCT processed 1,433 moves, accounting for 2,099 TEU, in just seven hours, an average crane rate of 210 moves per hour. Those moves included 647 20-foot boxes, 724 40-foot boxes, and two 45-foot high-cube containers, according to data collected by JOC.com.

“The productivity record was achieved under monsoon weather conditions, and included the discharge of some uncontainerized breakbulk cargoes,” PSA India said in a statement to JOC.com.

The previous week also saw BMCT cranes hit 196 moves per hour on the Cosco Thailand, which outpaced the 175-move-per-hour rate the terminal booked on the 9,954-TEU MV Athenian in December last year.

“The back-to-back achievements of the BMCT team in raising our productivity benchmark, first to 196 moves per hour and then to 210 moves per hour, shows our drive to deliver ever higher service levels to our customers,” said Sivakumar Kaliannan, BMCT’s managing director.

The weekly CI-1 is a consortium arrangement between Cosco Shipping, APL, OOCL, and Pacific International Lines (PIL). Of the six vessels — with capacities hovering around 8,500 TEU — Cosco has provided four ships, while APL and OOCL have contributed one vessel each, a Cosco (India) official told JOC.com.

Rail agreement helping

Besides refocusing on vessel productivity, BMCT is looking to capitalize on a broader collaborative rail arrangement JNPT concluded with all terminal stakeholders this week.

Having secured unfettered common rail service access at a port overly dependent on mixed trains, BMCT is expected to substantially increase its inland container depot (ICD) movement, which amounted to about 7,800 TEU a month during April-June, against average monthly throughput of approximately 69,000 TEU, according to a JOC.com analysis.

The latest port data shows BMCT handled 67,447 TEU during July with 21 vessel calls, up 9 percent from 61,987 TEU with the same number of calls during June.

In addition to the CI-1, BMCT currently has three weekly mainline calls — the EPIC2 (India-Europe) between CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, and Cosco; the Swahili Express (SWAX) between CMA CGM and Emirates Shipping Line in the India-Africa trade; and the IMED (India-Middle East-East Mediterranean) comprising CMA CGM and Cosco. The terminal also hosts a fortnightly short-sea service operated by domestic carrier Shreyas Shipping and Logistics for coastal or intra-country movement.

After Phase I of a recent modernization, BMCT features a berth line of 1,000 meters (3,281 feet), a 90-hectare (222 acres) storage yard with 9,336 ground slots, four rail-mounted gantry cranes, and 36 rubber-tire gantry cranes with a capacity of 2.4 million TEU annually.  A second phase of the same scale is in the works and targeted for completion at the end of 2022 — it would make JNPT a 10 million-TEU container harbor. 

Port productivity is generally defined as the number of container moves per hour of time spent by a ship alongside the berth. APM Terminals’ Gateway Terminals India (GTI), JNPT’s largest operator by volume at present, reportedly still holds the best-ever national feat — 3,294 liftings in 14 hours, with an average crane rate of 235 moves per hour, on a January 2010 call from the Ever Raber.  

Contact Bency Mathew at bencyvmathew@gmail.com.