BUSINESS PRACTICE. Klaipėda Container Terminal on the Way to New Quality

 

Klaipėda Container Terminal (KCT) is counting 26th year of stevedoring at the Port of Klaipėda. A quarter of a century ago the company emerged as one of the first private enterprises in the state-owned port. The newly-founded terminal was bold enough to challenge neighboring ports declaring it would handle containers, a type of cargo never seen in Lithuania before. Today KCT is recognized as a leading container terminal in the Baltic States.

’We are proud that the quality of our service satisfies world’s largest container carriers, but leadership in the field obliges us to keep advancing. Our investments in terminal development and capacity increase will open new possibilities for our customers’, says Vaidotas Šileika, CEO of the company.

Growing cargo volumes trigger terminal development

Since its foundation, the company has experienced several transformations, but the main principles adopted in the very beginning – fast response to market changes, a wide range of services and cordial relationship with customers – have firmly set in as the core imperatives of the company’s code of practice helping to build lasting relationships with customers, some of them counting a second decade.

Operating two terminals and handling all the main types of cargo, today KCT ranks among the strongest stevedores at the Port of Klaipėda. 2018 was the year of record-breaking in the company’s history – 5 M tonnes of annual turnover, including more than 371 000 TEU containers, surpassed previous year by 21 %. About 80 % of the volume was handled at the container terminal, the remaining 20 % of the throughput, comprising mainly bulk and breakbulk treated at the ro-ro and general cargo terminal. 2019 seems to be even more promising and if the volume growth continues at the same rate, it may lead to new historical achievements.

Coping with such uncommon volume growth with existing capacities is a serious challenge and container terminal utilization indices have surged up urging to take radical measures. Terminal development and capacity increase had been on the company’s agenda for a number of years, but the implementation of the plans was hindered by outdated infrastructure in the southern part of the port where KCT terminals are located. Old berths were not strong enough for mounting new craneage, while inadequate water depth became a serious restriction for accommodation of modern feeders.

The quay reconstruction and dredging project started by the port authority in Malkų Bay in 2018 is advancing. Renovated berths of the ro-ro and general cargo terminal will be commissioned in June, and the first section of the container terminal quay is also under construction. In the beginning there was some apprehension that the reconstruction might impede with vessel handling, but the decision to proceed in stages leaving two-thirds of the quay operable all the time eliminated these concerns. The terminal can still accommodate two vessels at a time and fine-tuning of operation processes allows to deliver productivity as good as before.

Large investments will upgrade the terminals to a new level

Along with the reconstruction and dredging project carried out by the port authority, KCT has announced an impressive investment programme of ca. 40 million euros to be implemented in the next two years. The funds will mainly be dedicated for acquisition of new port equipment and elimination of present constraints both seaside and landside. The target is to upgrade both terminals to a completely new level of productivity and quality.

In the first phase of the investment programme the company acquired two new reachstackers and six RTG cranes for container yard operations, all produced by KONECRANES. Two of the new RTGs were put in operation at the end of 2018, the rest of the order will be delivered in the middle of 2019. The state-of-the-art equipment is much more productive and ergonomic, due to higher stacking capability it will also help increase the container yard capacity.

As soon as the berths are ready, KCT will deploy two new STS cranes suitable for handling much larger vessels expected when dredging of the water area to 14.5 m is completed. Due to present draft limitations the terminal can now accept container vessels up to 3600 TEU. After infrastructure improvements it will accommodate the largest ships that can enter through the port gate. The good news for the shipping lines is that the 65 t capacity cranes with 52 m outreach will also have the twin-lift function allowing to speed up the vessel handling process and shorten the turnaround time.

New container train project to boost rail transportations

Double-digit volume growth for the second year in turn has revealed some sore issues in landside operations. A dramatic increase of traffic started forming a bottleneck at the terminal gate during the rush hours, causing dissatisfaction of the haulers. To eliminate this problem, a plan for increasing the gate throughput has been worked out. In the coming years the gate system will be completely changed adding more physical space and introducing some innovative features like OCR and pre-advice of truck visits. It will allow to monitor the vehicle flow distributing it more evenly throughout the day and improve communication with the truckers.

Another way to solve the traffic issue is promotion of the railway mode. At present about 15 % of containers arrive and leave the terminal by rail. Following the practice of European ports, the share of railway transport should grow. The good news is that a new container block train to Ukraine will be launched already at the end of June. It will complement the already existing container trains with one more weekly departure. On the Lithuanian side the Containerships Train will be operated by Intermodal Container Service, operator of local container shuttle train between Klaipėda and Vilnius.

Inland waterways included in container logistics

How about alternative transport modes? Many European seaports widely employ river barges for delivering containers to inland ports. In Lithuania it is a completely new practice, started by the Inland Waterways Directorate just two months ago. The first trial shipments from KCT terminal to Marvelė Port in Kaunas were quite successful, raising a lot of interest among forwarders. Organizers of the project are very optimistic about the feasibility of this sustainable transport mode.

Synergy of different purpose terminals increases the variety of services

Significant investments were also assigned for the development of the ro-ro and general cargo terminal. In June, the terminal will receive a new 125 t capacity GOTTWALD mobile crane for handling conventional cargo. The facility serves as a CFS station for the container terminal bagging bulk cargo and stuffing it into containers, thus helping to augment volumes of containerized cargo. The increasing synergy of the two different purpose terminals adds to better utilization of the capacities and enables to offer customers a wider range of services.

Regular customer interviews are our tool for identifying the weak points in operational processes and improving our performance. Results of client satisfaction surveys help us enhance the quality of service and inspire changes.

It is estimated that infrastructure improvements, provided by the landlord, combined with KCT investments in handling equipment, will increase the capacity of the terminals by 60 %, enhancing their productivity to the level, which enables successful competition with any rival terminal in Europe.

Information by Klaipėda Container Terminal

 

 

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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

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