India’s biggest container port seeks to improve ease of doing business
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India’s busiest container port, located near Mumbai, will roll out a cargo container tracking service from 1 July—a first-of-its-kind initiative that will help exporters and importers track their goods in transit.
The port, named after India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, which handles more than half the cargo containers passing through the country’s ports, will provide logistics data bank services through the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) and Japan’s NEC Corp.
The plan seeks to bring efficiency in the logistics and supply chain management through the use of information technology that would be used for tracking the movement of cargo containers across the port to the inland container depots (ICDs), container freight stations (CFSs) and end-users.
ICD and CFS are off-dock facilities licensed by the customs department to help decongest a port by shifting containerized cargo and carrying out customs-related activities outside the port area.
DMICDC will provide a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag for each container, which will be tracked through RFID readers installed at different locations. The logistic data bank service will provide the visibility and transparency of the export-import (EXIM) container movement starting from the port and covering the entire movement through rail or road till the ICDs and CFSs.
This project will help in reducing the overall lead time of container movement across the western corridor and lower the transaction cost incurred by the shippers and consignees as a result of the predictability and optimization achieved through the logistics data bank services.
The service will cover all the four existing terminals at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, namely Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal (JNPCT), Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT), Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal (NSIGT) and Gateway Terminals India Pvt. Ltd (GTIPL). The service will be extended to the new container terminal being built by Singapore’s PSA International Pte. Ltd at J.N. Port when it starts operations at the end of 2017.
The logistics data bank service is part of a series of measures taken by the port over the past year to promote ease of doing business by cutting cost and time for exporters and importers. The export cycle time at the port has reduced from 88 hours to 65 hours after the measures were implemented.
RFID-based gate automation has become operational in two of the four terminals, while the remaining two will soon implement it.
The port has replaced paperwork required for shipments with a Web-based software solution and introduced inter-terminal movement of tractor-trailers between different facilities, cutting at least 7.5km of movement on the road. That has resulted in a reduction in pollution levels, besides fuel saving, reduced empty truck movements, lower turnaround time of trucks and cost of handling.
J.N. Port has started publishing on its website the tariff of 33 CFSs and 29 shipping lines that service it, along with tariffs at all the four terminals operating at the port to ensure greater transparency. Exporters and importers have been urging the government to make it mandatory for shipping logistics service providers to disclose the mode and manner of fixing rates, including the elements that constitute tariff, on their web sites or on their premises.
J.N. Port is also developing a centralized parking plaza covering 45 hectares which can accommodate about 2,000 tractor trailers.
The port has allotted land to set up laboratories for animal quarantine, plant quarantine, textile committee and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Rail-linked CFSs servicing J.N. Port are entitled to a rebate of Rs.728 per twenty foot equivalent unit, or TEU, to encourage movement of containers by rail and reduce congestion on roads. The ICD located at Mulund on the outskirts of Mumbai that feeds cargo containers to and from J.N. Port also gets a similar rebate.
A TEU is the standard size of a container and a common measure of capacity in the container business. A TEU can load 15.8 tonnes of cargo.
The port has scrapped the daily pre-berthing meetings which are now done online.
All the four container terminals will soon have independent container scanners, with the port deciding to install more scanners for select commodities. This will reduce truck detention. The port has widened roads leading to the terminal gates, while the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has started work on doubling the four-lane highway linking the port for faster evacuation of cargo.
J.N. Port handled 4.49 million TEUs in the year ended March, the highest since it was opened in 1989. It is looking to load over five million TEUs, driven by further improvements in productivity and efficiency at its four container terminals.
With a new terminal under construction, the port’s container loading capacity will more than double over the next seven years, straining the port’s cargo evacuation infrastructure, necessitating a widening of the road linking the port to eight lanes.
India was ranked 133rd in trading across borders by the World Bank last year. J.N. Port reckons that the steps taken by India’s biggest container gateway would improve the ranking.
P. Manoj looks at trends in the shipping industry.