Busan port is the 6th largest port in the world and second transhipment hub of the world behind Singapore. The port consists out of two parts, namely the old port visited in the morning and the new port visited in the afternoon. The new port is designed by government and operated by commercial terminal operators, like Hanjin and PSA. These commercial operators have also invested a lot in this new port. The new port is constantly further expanded with new terminals constructed on reclaimed land. Such that more activities from the old port can be moved into the new one, as well as future expansion. The Hanjin terminal operator expects more demand for cargo containers, due to economic development around the world. This will lead to the need for larger vessels, since these more economically efficient. Therefore, the port is an important investment for now and the future.
The larger vessels are also a reason for building the new port. The new port can accommodate larger ships than the old port, with ships that are 18 meters deep, 250 meters long and carry 18000 TUE. Currently there are 3.5 berths in operation at the new port which have 21 container blocks per terminal. These container blocks are operated since 2009, by 42 transfer cranes and 12 rail gantry cranes. These cranes move 38 containers per hour. The cranes are in some terminals operated manually, but half of the cranes are automated and operated from a control centre. In this control centre mostly females are at work, since they are better at handling the cranes than man is according to the terminal operator. The handling off the automated cranes is done 24/7 by workers working a maximum of 8 hours with one lunch break in between. Not all cranes are automated, since the technology was not ready yet when the first terminals in the new port were built. Since 2018 the new terminals were fitted with automated cranes.
This port has a horizontal yard, which means that the transfer cranes move horizontally through the yard. This was the most optimal way to get the containers onto trucks and less mistakes were made by the crane operators. However, this is not the most optimal and efficient way for handling the containers for transhipment, since that is a vertical yard. The terminal operators have therefore adjusted the new terminals to be vertical yards, which is more efficient especially with automated cranes. This automation is similar to the automation of the port of Rotterdam.
Currently 70% of all the containers, 20 million TUE, are handled in the new port. These containers come from western countries. The Asian containers are not offloaded in this port, since they are berthing in the old port. The containers that come from western countries that need to go to Asian countries and vice versa are transhipped at this port by truck between the old and the new port. Although this is not efficient and costs more money, because the shipping containers are passing customs twice, Busan Port is still a very important transhipment port between these two areas of the world. Since, Busan is the last transhipment port before the United States and the climate is better than the ports in Japan and Shanghai. These ports experience more earthquakes and tropical storms leading to temporary closures of the ports, which is not that often the case in Busan.
Transhipment is an important activity in the new port of Busan. It is the second largest transhipment port after Singapore. Not everything is perfect in the transhipment at the port of Busan, since the different terminals have different operators and it is difficult to move between operators and terminals, which costs unnecessary money. Also, as previously mentioned time and money is lost during the transhipment between the new and old port.
Link to macro studies:
From the macro studies it was concluded that the South Korean economy is export oriented. This also explains the large investment in this new large port. Also it was concluded in the macro studies that South Korea is a very technologic country, which could be observed as well with the automated cranes. However the gates or entering trucks where not fully automated and easy to drive through as we observed in Jebel Ali. From the environmental macro studies, it was clear that South Korea still strongly relies on fossil fuels, especially for traffic. In the new port still a lot of cars and trucks were diesel, however some equipment is already electrified. In the future there are plans to electrify more equipment, but the heavy trucks and equipment will first switch to LNG. The same trend or future pathway was mentioned during the excursions of Jebel Ali port and Van Oord Daimah yard.
Another interesting related issue towards on political and legal macro topics is that the new port of Busan is an important transhipment port, due to Chinese rules on cabotage. This makes it hard or in impossible for international shipping lines to operate between different ports in China. As result most of the cargo is sorted out in Busan and then shipped to China. Another remarkable event during the port tour was the encounter with a small demonstration for higher wages of the truckers. The inflation and employee shortage are in South Korea as well present day struggles.
Link to micro studies:
The new port of Busan is also a large land reclamation project and therefore has clear relation to the micro study of land reclamation. But also, renewable energy micro study has some small relation to this excursion. For example, the coastal and offshore industry faces a large challenge to become more sustainable, due to its fossil fuel dependency. This fossil fuel dependency is hard to replace due to the required power for the equipment, which was also a challenge at van Oord and Jebel Ali. However, the link towards the micro study gateways was more in depth than the relation of the other microstudies. A lot of data was gathered on space efficiency and productivity, qualitatively and quantitatively. The Busan new Port can be compared well with the Jebel Ali port, because both excursions were really comparable toward data gathering.