August 12, 2014—There seem to be as many ways to gauge port performance as there are analysts—but is this abundance efficient or even useful? Is there a simpler way, for example, to rank the performance of terminals without imposing onerous data collection requirements?
These questions were answered in “How Fit are Central America’s Ports? An Exercise in Measuring Port Performance,” a paper prepared by Nathan Associates’ Paul Kent and Gerardo Ayzanoa and consultant Asaf Ashar. Mr. Ayzanoa presented the paper at this year’s conference of the International Association of Maritime Economists in Norfolk on July 17.
In the paper, the authors assess the efficacy and applicability of a set of performance indicators at six commercial gateway container terminals in Central America and at three terminals in Latin America. The indicators pertain to operational efficiency (ship productivity, crane productivity, berth throughput productivity) and level of service (ship delay, truck delay, truck turn time). Based on operational concepts familiar to terminal operators and regulators, they provide more insight about port performance than perception surveys and other approaches--such as data envelopment analysis, or DEA--and draw attention to specific aspects of port operations that might need improvement. Regulators can use the indicators to monitor performance and government officials can incorporate them into concession contracts.
Regulators can easily obtain information on basic indicators from terminal reports, but when the goal is to rank terminals for intraregional, interregional, and global analysis data collection can be complex and difficult. To provide a basis for ranking terminals and to ease future collection efforts, Kent, Ayzanoa, and Ashar apply principal components analysis (PCA) to reduce the number of indicators to those most representative of performance. They conclude that of the six indicators, two—ship productivity and crane productivity—can facilitate broad comparisons of operational performance and rankings of terminals.
Papers presented at the IAME conference underwent double-blind peer review. Paul Kent, lead author of “How Fit Are Central America’s Ports,” served on the review panel and received special recognition for providing authors comments that enhanced presentation quality and improved their chances of publication in peer reviewed journals.