Indian ports pursue integrated container-tracking network


A key driver of productivity for larger container ports on India’s west coast, radio-frequency identification (RFID) company DMICDC Logistics Data Services (DLDS) is expanding its container tracking technology to smaller ports as the government works to smooth cargo flows and reduce costs through the supply chain.

“Ongoing discussions with the container handling port terminals in southern India to extend the [logistics data bank] LDB services would help to create a ‘single container tracking system’ for the users on a pan-India basis,” DLDS said in a trade update.

The RFID program has significantly improved container dwell times throughout the supply chain at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), from terminals to off-dock warehousing sites and hinterland points, DLDS said.

The system helped APM Terminals-operated Gateway Terminals India bounce back from the June 27 cyber attack on Maersk Group’s global system, reflected by the 12.3 percent increase in throughput year over year, according to DLDS.

The RFID services provider also said discussions are under way with shipping lines "to enable them to leverage the LDB system effectively."

The RFID tagging and tracing procedure, which is also operational at the private ports of Mundra and Hazira, allows exporters and importers to track goods in transit through the port to inland container depots, container freight stations and to end-users, thus bringing down logistics costs by optimizing and improving the predictability of cargo flows.

DLDS plans to add APM Terminals’ Pipavav port as well as the southern ports of Chennai, Tuticorin, Krishnapatnam, and Kattupalli to its logistics data network in the next stage, and the eastern port of Kolkata on the last leg.  

Some challenges still persist on the rail front at JNPT, as mixed train operations, instead of dedicated trains for each terminal, typically result in longer dwell times, reaching 102 hours in August against normal average dwell time of 34 hours for railed cargo during the month. Still, JNPT had a clear edge over Mundra on dwell times for imports via rail in August, averaging 79 hours compared with 214 hours at the private rival.

“Mixed container stacking at [the] yard of different terminal leads to challenges in retrieving the same and at times, leads to the possibility of containers missing the vessel,” the report said.

To tackle those issues, the port in coordination with rail authorities is setting up a “common rail yard” for all terminals, and current indications are that the Rs. 100-crore ($15.6 million) integrated facility would be ready toward the end of next year.  

While JNPT performed better than Mundra for railed imports, dwell times for imports by truck were the same as the prior month, at 27 hours, the DLDS analysis shows.

Those dwell times should shorten in the coming months as JNPT last week cleared another legal hurdle to its long-contemplated common trucker pooling arrangements for direct port delivery (DPD) shipments when the Indian Supreme Court turned down a request from a challenge of a lower court mandate that allowed the pool, port sources told