Truck turnaround times improve at Australian container ports

Only ports in Brisbane and Adelaide improved truck turnaround times.

Truck turnaround times improve at Australian container ports
Turnaround times for trucks at container ports in Brisbane and Adelaide have improved, but it is a different story elsewhere.


Truck turnaround times have risen in three of the five mainland container ports in the past year, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) figures show.

The ACCC’s annual Container stevedoring monitoring report no.17 shows that only Brisbane and Adelaide improved performance of this crucial task.

The report says average turnaround times in Brisbane were 38.1 minutes, a 3.6 per cent improvement, while Adelaide recorded a 19.7 per cent reduction to record average turnaround times of 28.5 minutes.

"A driver of Brisbane’s improvement would have likely been DP World’s terminal overcoming its implementation problems following its conversion to semi-automation in 2013-14," the report says.

For the majority of the truck-stevedore interface task, average truck turnaround times increased in Melbourne (11.4 per cent to 33.5 minutes), Sydney (4.9 per cent to 39.4 minutes) and Fremantle (9.8 per cent to 30.7 minutes).

"A factor in Sydney’s increase in turnaround times would have been issues with conversion to semi-automation at Patrick’s terminal," the report states.

Its authors point out that times have fluctuated significantly over the past seven years and that performance over that time has been good.

The five-port average has decreased, from 38.3 minutes in 2007–08 to 35.5 minutes in 2014–15 (a 7.5 per cent improvement) on an annual basis. Most of this occurred in the earlier years, largely before 2010–11. It subsequently plateaued, before increasing by 4.7 per cent in 2014–15.

The greatest improvement in truck turnaround times since 2007–08 has occurred in Adelaide, decreasing from an average of 43.5 to 28.5 minutes in 2014–15 — although this has fluctuated over time.

Brisbane has also recorded a significant improvement since 2007–08, from 45.4 to 38.1 minutes (16.2 per cent).

Sydney has recorded the third-highest improvement over the eight years (15.7 per cent), particularly following the December quarter 2010. At that time, an average turnaround time of 45.5 minutes was recorded.

This fell to 30.8 minutes in the June quarter 2012, but has increased since then.

Much of the improvement in Sydney over the last five and a half years is likely to be due to the introduction of the Port Botany Landside Improvement Strategy (PBLIS) by the NSW Government and Sydney Ports in February 2011.

Under PBLIS, the NSW Government and Sydney Ports set a benchmark rate indicator for turnaround times of 50 minutes.

Where the stevedore exceeds the benchmark, it is required to pay financial penalties to the transport operator. Where a transport operator arrives early or late or fails to arrive, it is required to pay financial penalties to the stevedore.

Truck turnaround times in Melbourne have tended to be the lowest of the three largest container ports, which remained the case in 2014–15.

However, it is the only port to record an increase in average times since 2007–08, rising 12.7 per cent.

In Fremantle, truck turnaround times have fallen 7 per cent since 2007-08.

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