The efficiency of a port is part of a continuum that includes maritime, terminal, and hinterland operations. These dimensions are interrelated since inefficiencies in one dimension are likely to impact the others. For instance, issues in terminal operations are most likely to negatively impact maritime and hinterland operations with delays.
- Maritime operations. At start, what happens at the port foreland can impact its performance, mainly because a ship could be delayed. The efficiency of the maritime access is a component of port performance, which includes average anchorage time (M1), where ships are waiting for an available berthing slot. Long waiting times at anchorage can be the outcome of a lack of berthing slots able to accommodate specific ship classes (e.g., draft and cargo type) as well as terminal productivity issues. Depending on their site and configuration, ports can have complex in port navigation requiring pilotage and tugs through access channels and turn basins. The average ship turnaround time (or ship dwell time; M2) represents the time it takes to service the ship once it has docked. The value of enhancing such a system is clearly to the benefit of maritime shipping companies.
- Terminal operations. Represent the most common performance indicator that is used to assess port efficiency. For container terminal operations, this commonly involves several key operations. Crane performance (T1) is a common bottleneck in terms of the average number of crane movements per hour. For maritime shipping companies, this is a crucial factor since it is related to the amount of time their ships will spend at the port. How cargo (containers) is brought back and forth to the storage yard is also a component of port performance and often related to the number of movements per crane hour. Many container terminals use holsters or straddle carriers for such operations. Container storage yard operations involve stacking and related stacking density, an important variable determining terminal capacity. The average yard dwell time (T2) for inbound, outbound, and transshipment cargo is a common indicator of terminal performance. When trucks enter the terminal to pick up or drop off cargo, space and equipment are required. This is often a critical bottleneck for trucking companies since it dictates the amount of time they will spend at the terminal, which is reflected in the average truck turnaround time (T3). Gate performance concerns the efficiency of tasks related to document processing and security inspections so that a truck is admitted and cleared to pick up or drop cargo at the facility. Gates used above their capacity are characterized by long truck lines waiting to be processed and enter the terminal for cargo they are already chartered to handle. Therefore, the average gate waiting time (T4) can be used as a performance indicator. For terminals having on-dock rail facilities, the performance of the rail loading/unloading equipment can also be an important component of the terminal’s performance.
- Hinterland operations. The efficiency of transport operations beyond the terminal is usually not considered as port performance indicators. They involve all the transport and distribution activities servicing the port’s customers, such as an inland port. However, for practical purposes, it generally focuses on inland operations adjacent to the port area (often labeled as the back of port). The key factor in hinterland operations is the capacity of the local road network in areas adjacent to the port. Congestion and bottlenecks at street intersections impair the port’s performance in many of the supply chain management strategies of the port’s customers. Some ports have near-dock rail yards that must be serviced through the terminals’ gates. In many gateway ports, transloading activities that transfer the contents of maritime containers into domestic truckloads (or domestic containers), or vice-versa, are an element of the performance of hinterland operations. Port authorities have an oversight, either directly or indirectly, of the port efficiency.
While terminal operations are usually concessioned to private operators, port authorities tend to have direct oversight of maritime operations and several elements of hinterland operations, such as local roads directly connected to the port terminals, some of which on land owned by the port. Although cities are not directly involved in port operations and commonly have limited, if any, jurisdiction on port land, they commonly provide and maintain crucial road infrastructure connecting the port with its hinterland. They also bear many of the externalities of port operations, namely local congestion. Therefore, the port authority and the city are important stakeholders in the port performance continuum.