By Tom Peters
PSA International Pte. Ltd. (PSA), the new owner of Halterm Container Terminal in the port of Halifax, is looking at positioning the terminal as a logistics hub, says David Yang, PSA’s Regional CEO for Europe, Mediterranean and the Americas. PSA recently acquired Halterm from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners of Australia. The company has flagship operations in Singapore and Antwerp and has a portfolio that features a network of over 50 coastal, rail and inland terminals in 18 countries. In Canada, PSA also operates Ashcroft Terminal, British Columbia’s largest inland port facility, located about 300 kilometres east of the port of Vancouver.
Yang, in a keynote address to delegates attending the annual Halifax Port Days conference, discussed how rapidly things are changing within the supply chain and getting goods to market. As terminal operators “we need to anticipate these mega ships and design strategies around them,” he said. He also noted the rapid change in technology within the industry stating “technology drives production, consumption and subsequently trade.”
Yang pointed out there is “a consumer power revolution happening” with more people buying online and supporting growing e-commerce. “Trade logistics are being hugely affected by this” he said, adding that by 2030, e-commerce will increase to about 30 per cent of global retail sales.
Yang said maritime logistics are still quite fragmented so, to improve the supply chain, there needs to be a stronger collaborative effort with new partnerships doing things better, good data and good data governance. He said PSA believes that with a co-operative effort, its Ashcroft terminal can be transformed into a logistics hub. PSA purchased the terminal and over 300 acres and “we think one location can create a transporting hub and really change the supply chain in Canada. “We are hoping rail operators and all of you can help us. Hopefully this will be a game changer,” he said.
“Looking at Halifax, we see opportunities to participate in supply chain logistics. We have met with CN which gave us some very encouraging ideas,” Yang said, adding that PSA would like to work with partners to create an efficient inland hub which connects the Halifax terminal by rail, truck and data flow, and develop tailor-made solutions with them, and to make sure the terminal runs efficiently.
In further discussion on PSA’s plans for an intermodal hub, Kim Holtermand, Halterm’s CEO and Managing Director said in an email that, “Halterm’s customers depend upon Halifax’s fast efficient intermodal links in order to serve shippers globally with cargo sourced from or destined for major Canadian centres and across U.S. Midwest. Going forward we will look to build on current services with greater rail service frequency, ‘destination trains’ direct to and from Halifax and inland cities and a customer approach that delivers greater transparency in our service and confidence in our product.” Holtermand couldn’t offer a specific time line on these changes, only to say they are “Incremental changes. There is no ‘big bang’ approach.” He said that a few years ago Halterm worked with “customers and CN to open up the ramp for international importers and exporters at Moncton, N.B. More recently we have converted a number of customers from truck to coastal services up and down North America’s East Coast. As traffic grows for various inland and coastal centres, our focus is not in fact on the geography, but rather on each and every opportunity that we see to add value for customers. We will never simply add cost to our supply-chain. In recent years in particular we have built Halterm’s capabilities and customer-base by ensuring that doesn’t happen.”
On capital investment for Halterm, Holtermand said Halterm will add a fifth super post-Panamax crane and supporting landside equipment in the middle of 2020, offering all carriers access to unrivalled quayside capability in Eastern Canada. “Along with that capability comes a responsibility to ensure that customers have high quality data to navigate their vendor relationships and customer expectations,” said Holtermand. “As part of the PSA family we have access to new technologies that can bring performance improvements and our challenge as a management team is to bring the right solutions to our customers at the right time,” he said.