The Port of Hamburg is an expansive universal seaport located on the River Elbe in Hamburg. Known as Germany’s ‘Gateway to the World’, the port has handled cargo for over 828 years. It continues to adapt to meet the needs of the city’s economy.
With handling facilities suitable for every type of cargo, the Port of Hamburg is a significant industrial base with a net added value of 21.8 billion euros. It is not owned by any particular organisation, but it is considered a commercial area. The site of the port belongs to the city of Hamburg, but tenants are able to rent the terminals inside.
The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) is responsible for managing the infrastructure of the port. Upon speaking to Industry- EU Magazine, Jens Meier, CEO of the HPA, said:
“Hamburg primarily scores with its favourable location in terms of transport geography at the interface of North-South and East-West routes, its broad range of services and excellent infrastructure. The Hamburg Metropolitan Region is also one of the top markets for logistics floor space. Short distances make the areas available for logistics in and around the port a favourite base for new arrivals in the sector. To be able to cater for growing demand in the long term, Hamburg is closely cooperating with neighboring regions that possess additional capacity and profit from proximity to the Port of Hamburg.”
“A daily challenge at the Port of Hamburg is the correct handling of large container ships. With the Nautical Terminal Coordination, (NTC) the Port of Hamburg possesses a unique facility addressing the central operational coordination of mega-ship calls – long before the vessel starts sailing along the River Elbe. NTC’s tasks include coordination of preliminary planning irrespective of terminal, approach and departure planning for mega-ships. As central interface, NTC drafts a total overview, coordinating this around the clock with the Nautical Centre in Hamburg and the pilots. This combines communications channels and spots the reciprocal effects of decisions relating to mega-ship clearance at an early stage. Conflict situations are therefore already detected, and if possible eliminated, on the approach to the pilotage waters.”
“All existing industries benefit from the port and its connections, including, for example, the industries around raw materials, finished goods and textiles. In addition, the export sector also benefits from the port, as things like machines or food are being exported.”
“HPA’s goal is to continually develop the Port of Hamburg”
The seaport is able to cope with large quantities of trade, offering 42 terminals that can handle project cargo, liquid cargo, suction cargo, bulk cargo, and grab cargo. The total land area of the port is 4,258 hectares. 3,465 hectares of this space is in current use. The quay walls for ocean-going vessels are 43 kilometers long and they offer 280 berths for ocean-going vessels, including 40 berths for mega-ships.
About 10,000 ocean-going ships arrive in the Port of Hamburg every year. The Asia trades are one of the main markets: In 2015, an average of 20 full-container Asia services called in Hamburg every week. This container traffic is significant enough to give the port an annual 1.3 percent increase of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU’s). The HPA reported that the port held 4.7 million TEU’s in 2016.
Container throughput with Chinese ports made good progress, increasing by 1.6 percent to 2.6 million TEU. In addition, there were 15 liner services in Arabian Gulf trades, 14 to Africa, 11 to South America, 8 bound for North America and various direct connections with other trade routes, such as India and Pakistan, Central America and the Caribbean, and Australia.
Hamburg sees continuous growth in the number of calls by containerships with a capacity of 10,000 TEU. The port is also seeing an increase in ultra-large containerships (ULCS). In 2015, 647 ULCSs tied up in Hamburg. Terminal operators have adapted to this trend and have extended their facilities accordingly. Since then, the container throughput achieved a 1.0 percent advance in 2016. The port achieved a turnaround in seaborne cargo throughput, reaching a total 138.2 million tonnes in the general and bulk cargo segments.
The port is contemplating a positive trend for 2017, according to Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of the Port of Hamburg’s Marketing. Improvements are continuously being made to the service to accommodate for growth in trade. Mr. Meier told Industry-EU:
“The focus is on the continued improvement of infrastructure for handling cargo and traffic in the port. Modernization of road, railway and waterway infrastructure is on a good way. Hamburg has always had the reputation of being a particularly fast, reliable, safe and secure port. Reliable infrastructure at the quay wall, in the port and in the hinterland as well as intermodal, optimised transport chains will ensure the success of the port.”
“To be equipped for future requirements, the Port of Hamburg needs to constantly adapt to current and anticipated market needs. In 2017 the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) aims to invest around one-fifth more than last year. A total of 240 million euros is due to be spent on keeping bridges, rail infrastructure, roads and quay walls in good shape. On the one hand, the Port of Hamburg’s position as one of Europe’s leading transshipment centres is an entrepreneurial success- thanks to investments of shipping and cargo handling companies and logistics providers. With their technical, economic and planning know-how, on the other, the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) has played with big investments a decisive part in this success. All those investments stand for the close collaboration between all those involved in port business and management and has created an atmosphere favouring customers and competition.”
“Against the background of rising transport volumes and ever more complex globally meshed logistics chains, digitalization of a transport hub like the Port of Hamburg will constitute a vital competitive advantage. HPA’s goal is to continually develop the Port of Hamburg as a smartport over the next few years. ‘Smart’ stands for an intelligent exchange of data to boost the port’s quality and efficiency as an essential element of the supply chain. As one example, an already launched electronic traffic system ensures optimized road traffic and helps to avert traffic jams in the port.”
In addition to these developments, joint CEO of Marketing Igno Egloff has announced:
“Hamburg is further extending its position as Europe’s leading rail port. In 2016, 46.4 million tons of freight (up 1.5 percent) and 2.4 million TEU (up 2.4 percent) were transported in/out of the port by rail. We are delighted about this record result. Now at 46.6 percent, the proportion of freight transported by rail received a further boost”.
The development of the port has been a positive influence on jobs as well as on trade. The logistic sector underpins 172,000 jobs in Hamburg. 133,000 of these jobs are directly or indirectly related to the port. Mr Meier has provided further explanation of this. He said:
“The port’s geographical location and the excellent performance of businesses there make the Port of Hamburg Germany’s leading foreign trade hub. As a cargo handling, storage and logistics hub, the port ensures high added value and employment in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The port is also the largest and most important taxpayer and employer for the state of Hamburg.”
Partnerships have played a key role in furthering the network of employees. In addition to this, “a co-operation between two or more organizations can help to simplify or innovate work steps”. Upon speaking to Industry- EU, Mr. Meier explained:
“Back in 1982, the Hamburger port business community laid the foundation stone for the ‘paperless port’ by launching Dakosy Datenkommunikationssystem. With its Hamburg Port Community System, Dakosy now operates one of the world’s most efficient, functional and comprehensive port communication and telematics systems – an important quality seal for the Port of Hamburg.”
World trade affairs have continued to have an impact upon the Port of Hamburg. The CEO of the HPA said that he anticipates a growing trade with Canada “because of the free trade and investment agreement between the European Union and Canada”.
Trade sanctions with Russia have “become apparent in the Port of Hamburg”. In response to the sanctions, trade with Russia has fallen by 30%. However, current data has suggested that trade with Russia is in a slight upward trend.
Mr. Meier added:
“Another factor influencing the commercial environment of the Port of Hamburg is the intensified competition with the North ports and those from the Mediterranean Sea.”
Despite fluctuation in trade, consistent and sustained efforts to create multi-faceted, modern and capable infrastructure at the Port of Hamburg will have a positive influence on Hamburg’s logistics sector. In strong competition with the other main ports in Northern Europe, Hamburg can claim a strong position in seaport-hinterland services. This means that the Port of Hamburg can live up to its name as Germany’s ‘Gateway to the World’.