The capacity of a port to capture an increased market share relates to:
- Maritime traffic – i.e., levels throughput per type of cargo served by the ports and/or passenger movements served in a given period (annum/quarter/month)
- Vessel traffic – i.e., number of different types of seagoing vessels (cargo and passengers) reaching the port in a given period of time
- Call size – i.e., the average and/or maximum size of the seagoing vessel calling at the port. With this indicator formin a combination of the two previous indicators.
Maritime traffic monitoring is the first pillar of such performance measurement exercises. It is used worldwide and includes the collection of data on the following categories of cargoes:
- Total tonnage (metric tons)
- Total general cargo (tons)
- Total liquid bulk (tons)
- Total dry bulk (tons)
- Containers (TEU)
- Passengers (coastal shipping) (number)
- Cruise Passengers (number)
There are some common standards in these measurements. Container traffic is reported in TEU (twenty-feet-equivalent units). Throughput in the categories liquid bulk, dry bulk, conventional general cargo, and ro/ro is reported in tons. Still, there are cases that different definitions exist in the measurement of throughput. Port Authorities (or terminal operators) do not necessarily use the same individual traffic categories or measurement units. Some ports use net tonnage (net weight of the cargo), others use gross tonnage (the net weight plus first packaging), others gross plus tonnage (gross tonnage plus tar weight of the load unit). Differences also exist among ports when assigning cargo volumes on trailers to either Roll-on/Roll-off or conventional general cargo. Some ports add the Ro-Ro (Roll on-Roll off) based container traffic to the container throughput, while other ports only count Lo-Lo (Lift on-Lift off) operations when drawing up their container statistics.
Some additional performance indicators apply in the case of each shipping market.
- In all cargo markets, the separate monitoring of the trends of imported and exported cargoes is worthy as they represent a clear indication of the capacity of the port to facilitate specific supply chains.
- In containerized trade, ports measure different types of boxes, with the other categories including transshipment, transit, and local cargoes, as well as the number of empty containers and/or dangerous goods. They also measure the number of containers moved per size (i.e., 20 feet or 40 feet container) and container type (e.g., standard, refrigerated, etc.).
- In the cruise passenger market, ports monitor the number of transit passenger movements (i.e., passengers embarking/disembarking for a few hours) and of ‘home in/out’ passengers (i.e., passengers commencing and/or concluding their cruise at the port).
Vessel traffic refers to monitoring more than the aggregate number of vessel calls or the type of cargo vessels calling at the port. The average and maximum size of ships calling at the port need to be also monitored, and whenever possible, compared with trends in those ports considered as competitors, as they represent indicators of the capacity that a port has demonstrated to host particular types of vessels. With different maritime markets having their requests, ports monitor the calls differently by:
- Container ships
- Breakbulk ships
- Dry Bulk ships
- Wet Bulk carriers
- LNG carriers
- LPG carriers
- Passenger ship (coastal shipping)
- Cruise ships
Additional performance indicators related to market capture are worth being monitored. They facilitate ports to further analyze throughput in the light of the port’s capacity and thus reach a comprehensive understanding of the potential that has a port to excel in capturing further calls and throughput. The list of such additional indicators includes:
- the share of the market in the port region that is served by the port
- the modal split of cargo moving in/out to the port,
- the utilization of the warehousing and distribution capacities of the port
- the cargo served (TEU and/or tons) per hectare, but also
- GPD growth vs. tons per type of cargo