TOC Americas 2019: New portal could bring Panama’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts together

London 1st November 2019 – A new port community-type system that could transform competing container terminals in Panama into an integrated port complex serving both Atlantic and Pacific oceans is under development.

Delegates at this week’s TOC Americas Container Supply Chain event in Cartagena heard how terminals, encouraged by Advent Intermodal, were beginning to work together to develop the Portal for Panama to increase cargo visibility through single, centralised information hub.

Stephen Shaffer, president of Colon Container Terminal, said: “Up till now there has been a bit of gap in terminal transfers, and what we are ultimately trying to provide with this platform is a Panamanian base for our customers – no one terminal can handle all the volumes, but collectively we can and this platform allows a diverse group of customers to have trust in the overall system

Allen Thomas, chief strategy office at Advent International, said: “Panama is different place to many ports because it is small but very fragmented and with very intense competition between the terminal operators – and it is a challenge for terminal operators to retain their volumes because the carriers are looking for efficiency and there are lots of other transhipment options in the region.

“Our intention was to create a platform to foster collaboration between the disparate operators,” he said.

The portal’s architecture is based on fulfilling three key aims: firstly to create a single place where any stakeholder in Panama can go to and be able to integrate that directly with their platform.

Secondly, it intends to introduce a vehicle booking system for terminals’ truck gates, which have proved so effective in reducing congestion on roads around terminals and at their gates elsewhere in the world.

Thirdly, there will ultimately be an automated fee payments and collection functionality.

“We have now completed integration with Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT) and we are starting to test with CCT,” Mr Thomas said.

Juan Carlos Croston, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs at MIT, explained that one of the challenges facing terminal operators Panama who are dealing with inter-terminal transfers is reducing the normal seven days it takes for a box to move from one coast to the other.

“The network configuration of the shipping lines means that they have it in their minds that the transfer can be done in five days, and it has been up to us to prove that it can be done.

“But to do it consistently we need the sort of visibility this portal will provide – att he moment we have 100% visibility at the berth, and 0% once it has left the gate,” he said.

Mario Perez Balladares, managing director of Panama Transhipment Group (PTG), a haulier that undertakes inter-terminal transfers, said that there are three options for boxes to cross the country – on board vessels via the canal itself; on the Panama Canal Railway Company’s trains; or through his fleet of trucks.

He said that the railway is able to transport around 1,000 boxes per day, while PTG has capacity for around 700 boxes per day.

He said the transparency the portal promised would be key to improving productivity: “7% of the world’s trade moves through Panama, and the country and the way we do business going to be watched by the global commerce – we have to have transparency and we need to have a consensus amongst the port community here to see it though otherwise Panama will be jeopardised.

“We are carrying 700 boxes each day but we have to be very careful about what we are carrying – there is a lot of money laundering and other activities and doing due diligence is really, really important,” he said.


About TOC Worldwide
For 40 years, TOC Worldwide has provided the market-leading conference and exhibition forums for the global port and terminal industries, their customers and suppliers. With the addition of the TOC Container Supply Chain conference alongside established coverage of port development, operations and technology, the TOC event portfolio has now evolved to attract a wider audience of container supply chain professionals.

Taking place each year in the world’s key shipping hubs, including Europe, Middle East, Americas and Asia, each TOC is now a complete maritime supply chain event for its region, bringing together cargo owners, logistics providers, carriers, ports, terminals and other key stakeholders to learn, debate, network and foster new business solutions.

TOC also provides a platform for port operations, technology and shipping professionals in the dry bulk sector to come together and advance best practice in bulk cargo handling and supply chain operations.

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