Consolidation speeds up container barge transport

Wednesday 21 08 2019

After a series of positive evaluations Port of Antwerp is going further with coordinated initiatives and measures to make container barge transport more efficient, in other to permit sustainable expansion of the port.

Five main components of the action plan


In practical terms the initiatives cover five main aspects:

  • - Increasing the barge handling capacity
  • - Scheduling of barge movements and collaboration
  • - Consolidation of small volumes
  • - Digitisation
  • - Longer period for reduced laytime charges


Special berths and central scheduling of barge movements


The barge handling capacity within the port has now been expanded by eliminating the shortage of dock labour and setting aside special berths for container barges. Specifically, the barge quay at DPWorld was handed over in June 2019, and an additional berth for barges will enter service in the course of 2019 at PSA Europa terminal, quay 869.


The project for central planning and monitoring of barge movements was unanimously evaluated as positive, and so will be further pursued in a structural manner. Fixed time frames will be used for larger, regular movements, so as to give more stability. The MPET and DPWorld terminals for their part have promised to raise the minimum number of teams for barge handling. This means that at least eight teams at MPET and six at DPW will be available during weekdays.


Finally the Barge Traffic System (BTS) is being expanded with the addition of a function that will inform barge operators proactively about how busy the terminals are, with automatic notification being given whenever demand exceeds supply.


New plans for consolidating small volumes


The project for consolidating small volumes was also evaluated positively, and so the project will be re-started as of 1 September with just a few alterations. The minimum call size will be reduced to 20 moves per shipping terminal, and the subsidised hubs in the port (ATO and PSA 667) will no longer operate. On the other hand the consolidation hubs in the hinterland will continue to operate at the current rate of subsidy.


In the area of digitisation NxtPort has developed the "Next Mode of Transport" and "Green Lights" use-cases, which will shortly be given the go-ahead for testing. The main feature of these is that information will be shared at an earlier stage, enabling all parties to make gains in efficiency.


And as the fifth and last component the period during which container barges can benefit from reduced laytime charges has been extended from 36 to 48 hours as of September 2018. In this way Port of Antwerp seeks to meet the demands of the barge industry.