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Ports give out mixed messages on investment priorities

Ports give out mixed messages on investment priorities

An independent study of almost 200 port owners/operators, consulting engineers and contractors, revealed that one-fifth (20%) prioritise whole life costs when procuring equipment for their port development.

However, further analysis of the data reveals that port owners appear to be under investing in maintenance – a core element of measuring whole life costs. The research showed that more than one-third of operators had noticed their maintenance levels decreasing as a result of budget pressures over the last two years.

“Despite all the best intentions, the reality is that port owners are not always prioritising investment in the things that will lower downtime, reduce costs and improve efficiency of their operations over the long term,” said Richard Hepworth, managing director, Trelleborg Marine Systems.

“In the current climate, the financial pressures on ports to lower costs are considerable. The industry must resist the temptation to do business with low grade suppliers delivering cheap, unreliable mission critical equipment. This can only be achieved if ports and other decision makers in the supply chain, put short term savings to one side and focus on the bigger picture,” he added.

More than a quarter of those polled admitted not knowing which criteria to put first when procuring mooring and berthing equipment. In addition, only 5% said they value suppliers’ technical support, ahead of other factors, while 2% and 1% respectively said they appreciated the importance of after-sales care and product warranties offered by equipment providers.

Hepworth concludes: “If decision makers gave whole life costs greater precedence, this will naturally steer them towards quality products backed by good manufacturer guarantees and strong technical support. This will also help address the crippling levels of unscheduled downtime suffered by ports, harbours and terminals across the globe.”