The Container Port Performance Index for 2022 (CPPI 2022), prepared by The World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence, was published recently. You already can hear the howls from the executives of the ports that have gone down in ranking and the chest-beating of the ones that have increased their rankings.

The development of the CPPI is based on total container ship in port time. The calculation of the ranking of the index employs two different methodological approaches: an administrative or technical approach, which is a pragmatic methodology reflecting expert knowledge and judgment; and a statistical approach, using factor analysis and then a rank aggregation method applied to combine the results from the two different approaches and return one aggregate ranking.

One of the interesting graphs I found in the report depicts the effect Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS) have on overall performance. The graph below shows the number of moves per crane against crane intensity.

No surprises that using only one crane on a vessel delivers the best performance, but interesting to note that the individual crane performance dropped dramatically when using eight or nine cranes on a single vessel.

This validates the common complaint by large container stevedores that working ULCS, which have exchanges of more than 10,000 moves, negatively affects their performance, especially on the landside. Shipping lines were hoping that their service providers would be able to achieve 250 moves per berth hour for these types of vessels, but unfortunately this has been a difficult target to achieve. Having eight or nine quay cranes working simultaneously on a 400-metre-long vessel causes congestion under the quay cranes with too many ITVs, AGVs or other container handling equipment getting in each other’s way trying to service the cranes.

 Here are some more of my observations:

  • Yangshan (China) is in the number one spot (up two places) whilst last year’s number one, King Abdullah Port (Saudi Arabia), slipped 16 places. The wooden spoon was this year awarded to Savannah (USA) in 348th place.
  • The top 50 ports were all large ports with a throughput in excess of 4 million TEU per annum servicing vessels in excess of 13,500 TEU capacity. The majority of these ports are transhipment ports which are generally better performers than gateway ports. All Australian container ports are gateway ports, i.e., mainly receiving and delivering containers and minimal transhipment volumes.
  • The best performing Australian port (drum roll!) was Bell Bay in 192nd spot, up 26 places. The best performing capital city port in Australia was Melbourne in 273rd spot (up 32 places). Adelaide was next in 279th spot (down 15 places), Brisbane was the same as last year, 288th spot, Port Botany in 303rd (up 21 places) and Fremantle in 323rd (up 22 places). The Port of Halifax (Canada), which has been held up by certain stakeholders in the Australian shipping industry as a well-performing port compared to Australian container ports, dropped 240 places, and is now ranked in 278th spot just above Adelaide. Not sure what happened there!

It is interesting to note that the authors in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Container Stevedore Monitoring Report 2021-2022 and in the Productivity Commission’s recent report on Australia’s Maritime Logistics System both used the CPPI, in my view flawed, data in their reporting on the performance of Australian container ports, highlighting the fact that Australian ports are at the bottom of the league ladder.

I have written extensively and in more detail in the DCN on previous CPPI reports and argued that, solely relying on waterside performance and not incorporating landside performance and other factors, does not paint an accurate picture of port performance. This is acknowledged by the report’s authors in the following statement: The CPPI is based on available empirical objective data pertaining exclusively to time expended in a port and should be interpreted as an indicative measure of container port performance, but not a definitive one.