Kingston Wharves eyes auto trans-shipment as growth area

BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, May 07, 2016

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Numerically
, motor vehicle movement was the largest growth segment for Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) in 2015. In its annual report released this past week, the company says it is using an improved IT superstructure to introduce measures to simplify and automate processes involved in the movement of motor vehicles to "solidify our position as a regional auto trans-shipment hub", as noted by CEO Grantley Stephenson.


For KWL there was a 51 per cent increase in the number of domestic motor units handled during the year.


KWL said overall it increased investment in IT- related projects by 33 per cent to $111 million, up from the $83.5 million spent in 2014, also acquiring a full-scale third-party logistics (3PL) processing software which has enabled better inventory management and the generation of intelligent and pre-emptive reports for a growing number of logistics clients.


"With its scalability, the 3PL system is a major plank in KWL’s logistics value proposition to meet the growing business demand anticipated in the year ahead," Stephenson commented in the annual report.


During the year, vessel calls increased by more than 20 per cent or 143 vessels over the 690 vessels berthed in 2014.


Domestic 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) increased by 24 per cent from 69,000 in the prior year to 86,000 in 2015, while trans-shipment TEUs increased by eight per cent, moving from 124,000 at year end 2014 to 134,000 at the end of 2015.


Noting that "logistics opportunity is as much about the build-out of the enabling physical infrastructure," Stephenson added that KWL’s port-centred logistics presents "an attractive advantage to cargo owners who are perpetually refining and streamlining efficiencies of their supply chain".


In addition to strengthening technology infrastructure, KWL introduced a new mobile harbour crane, Liebherr LHM 550, to meet the demands of larger ships and increase the efficiency of stevedoring operations.


The new crane is a component of a $600 million investment programme, which also includes two container stackers, to strengthen the terminal-handling equipment mix and expand service capacity.


During 2015, KWL saw a 22 per cent rise in revenues and 53 per cent increase in profits before tax over the previous year, with group revenues at $4.7 billion and operating profits at $1.6 billion. Net profits increased by 49 per cent from $849 million in 2014 to $1.267 billion in 2015.


Stephenson said that in 2016 the company will pursue construction of a planned 160,000 square-foot total logistics facility and train staff for a "new and more nimble age in shipping and the provision of logistics services".


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