With a coastline stretching more than 1,600 miles, South Africa’s geographical location provides it an edge over other landlocked countries for doing trade with its commercial seaports. South African ports are crucial link in the logistics chain and hence the demand for it to be efficient and low in operating cost is a top priority. Transnet Port Terminals, the port management division of South African transport giant Transnet, has committed to be that crucial link in the logistics chain, which facilitates trade between South Africa and rest of the world by improving efficiencies within the operations of the ports to meet global standards.

Shreya Bhattacharya

South Africa is situated on one of the busiest international sea routes‚ critical to international maritime transportation and hence the country’s ports and terminals are considered as key engines for economic growth. Most Southern African import and export commodities are handled through the country’s seven logistics ports, Durban, Richards Bay, Saldanha, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Port of Ngqura, where the operations are being handled by the Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

TPT is part of Transnet SOC, South Africa’s state-owned freight transport and handling company. In 2000, Transnet’s single port division Portnet was divided into operations (SAPO- South African Ports Operations) and landlord businesses (NPA of SA or National Ports Authority of South Africa). In 2007, SAPO became Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) and NPA became Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

Today, TPT provides an integrated end-to-end multimodal logistics service to its customers, which comprise shipping industry, vehicle manufacturers, agriculture, timber and forest products, the mining industry and exporters of minerals, metals and granite. TPT over the years has thus gained proficiency in handling container sector, mineral bulk, agricultural bulk and Ro-Ro sectors.

Dedicated automobile terminals or Ro-Ro terminals are situated in Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth. TPT manages the automotive import, export and takes care of vehicle movements from factory to the vessels and from the port to dealer. The port operator also provides long and short vehicle storage facilities at strategic locations within Southern Africa. Ro-Ro services include the handling of project and abnormal cargo.

The South African ports have also well served the country’s mining sector by linking it with the global markets. Dedicated specialized terminals in Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay and Port Elizabeth handle the majority of South Africa’s bulk mineral exports. Packages are efficiently done in a way that ensures minimum logistics costs. The port operator also handles a full basket of agricultural bulk commodities through purpose built terminal facilities in Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Nqgura, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Specialized break bulk terminal are also operated by TPT at Maydon Wharf Durban, East London and Cape Town.

TPT has also invested billions in upgrading the container terminals at Durban, Ngqura, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Ngqura is the only port in the region capable of handling container vessels of up to 12,000 twenty foot container units when fully laden.

The Port of Durban is the largest and busiest container terminal in Africa and the second busiest in the southern hemisphere following Melbourne, Australia. The port approximately handles over 80 million tonnes of cargo per annum. Due to its geographical location, 60 percent of all imports and exports pass through the port, thus providing it a leading role in facilitating economic growth in South Africa. The Durban port terminal has also recently pioneered a world class rail dual cycle operation on the container planning system Navis.

Last year, the Navis software was successfully upgraded from version 2.3 to 2.6 at all TPT sites. The latest Navis version boasts a number of new features like enhanced rail functionality, improved performance and scalability, amongst others.

“Navis enables Transnet Port Terminals to drive operational efficiency and flexibility through effective use of its system capability. These capabilities allow for better coordination and optimization of both container and equipment moves, helping to reduce the cost of every move as well as increase terminal productivity. Navis being a world class terminal operating system, allows Transnet Port Terminals to take advantage and leverage of their extensive port operations knowledge and technological advances, to enable us to deliver world class terminal operations,” said TPT in a statement.

Since the terminals work as a single system and are not in competition with each other, vessels are provided with optimal routing. The software is the only solution that allows planning and operational staff to view, manage and control multiple terminals from a central location at the click of a button.

Maintaining sustainability

When numerous cargo handling activities goes on in the terminals 24x7, the possibility of environmental impact becomes high. The ports run by TPT make their attempt in enhancing sustainability.

“Promoting Sustainable Developmental Outcomes (SDO) is one of Transnet Port Terminal’s strategic focus areas and this is in line with the Minister of Public Enterprises’ Statement of Strategic Intent,” TPT says.

TPT considers “energy management, fuel management, water management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, carbon management, sustainability risk and opportunity assessment, management of water, waste and supply chains” as some of the key focus areas.

Last year, residents of East London suffered severe water outage due to a failure detected in one of the city’s main water pipelines. However, TPT East London experienced minimal disruptions to operations, thanks to one of their innovative sustainability measure of rainwater harvesting. Besides this, all the terminals where TPT operates have the internationally recognised ISO 14001 Environmental Certification.

The Transnet Port Terminals team thus continues to provide an expanding range of cost-effective value-added logistics services. It is ensuring that the gateways to the economic growth remain wide open in South Africa and it continues to play the role of an anchor in the sophisticated logistics chain.

Read Full Article