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Port of the month: Port of Amsterdam, Port of Partnerships

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A view of the Port of Amsterdam

A view of the Port of Amsterdam

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 00:00 – This month we take you to the port of Amsterdam. A fascinating port believing in “meten is weten” which means measuring is knowing. Moreover, last year the port of Amsterdam was corporatized. Read here about their experience.

Could you give us a short overview of the port of Amsterdam? What are its main characteristics?

The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is one of the world’s most important logistics hubs, which includes the Amsterdam port area and Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. The port of Amsterdam is the world’s largest petrol and cocoa port and Europe’s fourth largest port. A record amount of 95 million tonnes was transhipped in 2013. The goods are not only transported, stored and transhipped in the port region, a large proportion of them are also processed in the region. For example, oil products are blended to make petrol and cocoa beans, grains, soy beans and vegetable oils are processed into semi-finished products for the food, pharmaceutical and animal feed industries. Some 1, 650 sea and river cruise ships with a total of more than 650, 000 passengers also call at Amsterdam each year. The Amsterdam port region provides employment for 59, 000 people. All these activities combined, show that the port of Amsterdam is a crucial economic factor.

Due to its strategic and central location in Europe, the port is easy to reach and the excellent connections to the hinterland provide access to all the major European markets. The port of Amsterdam is a port of partnerships. It strives for partnerships at local, regional, national and international level, with the business community, knowledge institutes and government agencies. This is how the port aims to create value for and with its partners. The port of Amsterdam is committed to leveraging its knowledge and experience to make an innovative contribution to the sustainable development of the port region.

The port was corporatised in 2013. What did this change in practice?

The corporatised port of Amsterdam is able to better address market developments because it can respond more quickly. This reflects the fact that, at the present, the port is less dependent on political decision-making. In addition, the port of Amsterdam can, as a result of the corporatisation, promote regional cooperation, divide the benefits and burdens of the port in a more balanced manner within the region and promote more sustainable water and rail mobility. The corporatised port of Amsterdam also expressly opts to take on the role of partner and this is included in the motto: port of partnerships. By continually seeking out partnerships, it can achieve major steps with its partners that are designed to make the business development climate more attractive. Logistics companies, government agencies, knowledge institutes work together within the context of the ‘seamless connections’ programme to realise innovations aimed at speed, pooling and removing barriers within the logistics sector.

The “Train Lanes” sub-project focuses on a partnership in the logistics chain in order to manage the pooling of goods flows transported by rail. Removing barriers improves the competitiveness of rail transport to the hinterland. This fits in completely with the port’s sustainability mission: more water and rail transport and less road transport.

The port of Amsterdam is a core port. This means that it should have sustainable hinterland links by 2030. How are the links nowadays? Could you give us an indication of the modal split? How do you want to improve the modal split?

The modal split ratio at the port of Amsterdam is 60.5% for inland navigation, 3.7% for rail and 35.8% for road transport.

The aim of the port of Amsterdam is to further promote and stimulate transport by water and rail. It does this by actively developing rail shuttles, such as the Berlin and Milan shuttles, in association with its partners and by pooling goods flows. In addition, it is committed to expanding the existing capacity of water and rail in order to enable growth in transhipment to 125 million tonnes.

Celebrations at the Port of Amsterdam

Celebrations at the Port of Amsterdam

What are the big challenges ahead for the Port of Amsterdam?

The first main challenge of the port is the completion of the large new sea lock that must be operational in 2019. There is a trend of ocean-going vessels that are becoming increasingly larger. By expanding access, the port will be able to meet market demands and make the Amsterdam port region future-proof. The increasing scale is also clearly visible in the cruise segment. The ships are not only becoming larger, the market is also growing. This is revealed by a number of sources including the figures from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) that were announced on Wednesday, 12 March 2014. As it turns out, sea cruise ships with a total of more than 350, 000 passengers called at the port of Amsterdam, a combined total of 191 times in 2013.

The second challenge is space. The port of Amsterdam is growing, as is Schiphol Amsterdam Airport and the city itself. The aim is to grow as much as possible on the existing land area by using the space (land, quays and water surface) intensively. To this end, the port works in close partnership within the region with respect to attracting business, locating the right company at the right location and establishing lucrative connections between companies.

What are the efforts made in Amsterdam to be a “green” port?

The port of Amsterdam is committed to be an innovative and sustainable port in the field of the circular and bio-based economy. The port brings businesses, knowledge institutes and government agencies into connection in order to generate joint innovations. The port is also dedicated to participate in innovative start-ups and activities that are important for the greening and renewing of the port. The placement of windmills, the installation of dust monitoring systems and the realisation of noise reduction systems wherever possible are all ways of ‘greening’ the port region. Furthermore, the port of Amsterdam promotes the greening of the chain by improving train links and inland navigation, by installing shore power for inland navigation vessels and by introducing incentives for cleaner engines. The port also invests in an increasing sustainable energy production and in locating sustainable businesses in the port area. Finally, the port ‘greens’ its own business operations by using electric cars, LED lighting and solar panels at its premises. Because of all these efforts, the port of Amsterdam received an award from the International Association of Ports and Harbours for the most sustainable port in 2013.

You know that ESPO has been investing a lot of efforts over the last years in finding ways to optimise the integration of the ports into the city and local community? Is this also a challenge for the port of Amsterdam? What are your remedies?

Historically, the port of Amsterdam has always had a strong relationship with the city. These ties came about naturally due to the trade activities and the business and financial services. The port interconnects international logistics, regional industry and urban services. In other words: people, the environment and the market must reinforce each other. This is only possible when there are strong relationships with residents, regional and international partners, clients, municipalities, organisations and other seaports and ports in the Netherlands and Europe. The port of Amsterdam is committed to addressing the fast-changing face of the future. The port aims to achieve distinctiveness by providing quality, innovativeness and added value to the region. A practical example: waste flows from the city are processed in the City of Amsterdam Waste and Energy Company that is located in the port. Sewage water in the port is purified and fryer fat from the city is converted into biodiesel in the port. This shows how the various companies and organisations in the city, region and port strengthen each other. This is how the port serves as an engine for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area economy.

You might know that ESPO is a partner in PORTOPIA, a FP7 project aiming to develop a system to measure the performance of ports on the basis of indicators. Is Amsterdam taking initiatives in that field? How does the port measure its performance?

The port of Amsterdam measures its performance by comparing its transhipment, employment, added value, vessel traffic and hinterland transport to that of other ports in the Hamburg-Le-Havre range. Data from internal sources is combined with data from external sources for this purpose. In addition, the port also develops KPIs both independently and in association with other ports (within an ESPO context for example) to measure the performance of other ports.

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