Hubs: Spinning the wheels of trade

As far as ports go, APM Terminals Algeciras isn’t typical. It’s a transshipment hub port and one of the world’s largest, receiving more than 45 vessels per week.

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APM Terminals Algeciras and Tangier have become more productive with lower costs since the programme began in 2013.

Benefits of partnership

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Of the 100,000- plus containers loaded and unloaded in the port each week, the vast majority of them are transshipment cargo – neither imports nor exports, but rather cargo on its way to somewhere else in the world.

Maersk Line’s global vessel network relies on APM Terminals’ Western Mediterranean hub partnership in Algeciras and nearby Tangier, Morocco, as well as seven other transshipment hub ports – including Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia, Salalah in Oman and Rotterdam in the Netherlands – to connect large volume, large vessel trade lanes like the East-West and North-South with regional and local trade lanes – spokes – that can’t be served by large vessels.

Transshipment cargo to Africa is particularly challenging to handle with multiple changes in cargo terms between buyer and seller during a voyage, longer dwell times in the container yard and multiple changes to vessel stowage.

The importance of transshipment

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Hub ports like Algeciras and Tangier help Maersk Line provide customers with more services – port to port combinations – efficiently, requiring fewer total ships and ensuring they are the right size for the markets they serve, thus reducing waste. A hub terminal’s productivity also heavily affects Maersk Line’s global reliability – delays at hubs have a ripple effect through the network.

“For Maersk Line, the hub ports are as important to a reliable, competitive and cost-efficient network as the vessels, the systems and the people we rely on,” says Jakob Skov, Network Director for East/West Trades.

To improve the West Med hub, APM Terminals invested in new cranes and upgraded and heightened existing cranes to handle four Triple E-vessels in Algeciras while adding new rubber-tyre gantry cranes for the container yard.

In addition, APM Terminals is currently building APM Terminals MedPort Tangier, an automated container terminal under construction adjacent to the existing terminal and designed to handle Maersk Line’s future network growth and productivity requirements. It will begin operation in 2019.

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