Port dredging: what is the competitive advantage for the ports that you recently offered?

Port dredging
5 minutes to read

When we talk about competitiveness for port terminals, our first instinct is to always think about infrastructure: physical space, new equipment, automation etc. But an equally important factor in this regard is the dredging of ports.

For this, we call Fábio Saraiva, South Operations Manager at Wilson Sons and one of those responsible for the dredging of Itajaí, to detail how this procedure is done and why it is so important. Good reading!

What is port dredging?

The seabed near the coast as well as the riverbed at its mouth and bays are soils that are constantly changing. The movement of the current, the encounter with the margin and the action of other climatic factors cause sediments to be loaded and to be accommodated little by little.

Dredging is the act of removing these sediments with appropriate machines and procedures, whether for deepening or maintaining depth over time.

How is it done?

Fábio explains that in Brazil the dredging service is the responsibility of the Port Authority of each region. It is a department subordinated to public agencies that, in turn, are responsible for analyzing and granting permission to dredge an area.

A perhaps more important issue in this regard is not the dredging of the ports themselves, but the destination of sediments removed from the bed. There is an international research effort for new dumping and treatment techniques for the reuse of this material.

Therefore, NORMAM-11 establishes strict control requirements, such as:

  • information about the area to be dredged;
  • estimated volume of material collected;
  • duration of the operation;
  • expected change in depth;
  • type of equipment to be used;
  • nautical signaling to be used during the process, among others.

Even though there are many prerequisites to be fulfilled, Brazilian companies have no difficulty in making this plan. The biggest bottleneck is exactly the participation of the public power.

“Unfortunately, it takes a long time to get approval and release of funds, consequently the situation of Brazilian ports could prove to be more advanced,” says Wilson Sons’ Operations Manager.

Therefore, the development of new techniques combined with the modernization of government management can be great assets to simplify and streamline these interventions in the future.

Why do dredging?

For a port, maintenance dredging is the most common and done with some frequency over the years. See the main reasons why the procedure is most necessary.

Progressive silting

It is natural that the sea currents themselves bring more sediment over time to a coastal area, the so-called silting. Dredging in this case is necessary to prevent this movement from decreasing the depth of the draft.

Increase in the size of ships compatible with the port

By increasing the depth of the area close to a port, the terminal is able to receive larger ships with more cargo capacity. This opens up new business possibilities and new charter opportunities.

Growth in cargo handling

With new routes and larger vessels, the volume of cargo that passes through a port can increase considerably through dredging.

After all, the procedure can be used not only to deepen but also to expand the area around the port with a minimum draft, giving more space for movement and maneuvering of vessels.

Maintaining security

Maintenance dredging ensures a bed free of possible obstacles that put ships at risk. Fábio points out this relationship: “making a small analogy, a port with good dredging is compared to a road with good paving, bringing security to those who frequent it.”

How does dredging become a competitive advantage for ports?

Above we have listed the technical reasons for dredging around the port terminal, but there are also market advantages in this procedure. See what a port gets for investing.

Expansion of acting capacity

As already mentioned, a terminal that invests in increasing the draft and expanding its navigable area manages to move more loads and win in a variety of products handled.

With this increase in operations, it is possible to invest in new technologies, expansion of infrastructure and training of professionals. It is a virtuous cycle of development and growth for the port.

Search for new markets

An interesting point to note is that the disclosure of bathymetry reports themselves becomes advertising for the port worldwide – consequently a competitive attraction for new international customers.

Fábio explains: “the exercise of measuring the current draft of the access channels to the port and their respective berths is a factor of reliability granted to a Port and its Authority.

A port that invests in dredging and, consequently, in the dissemination of its bathymetry, is ahead of the others, attracting new ship-owners as well as fostering the entire logistics chain involved in Foreign Trade. ”

Building a modern image

With the difficulty of many ports in adapting to new international expectations, dredging procedures can send an important signal of modernity and investment in the development of the sector.

“The modernization of ports has been a concern for the entire maritime community for many years,” says our guest. “Reliable access channels and safe berths generate greater efficiency, increase competitiveness and most importantly, reduce costs. It is a currency of exchange. ”

Fábio gives the example of grains as an opportunity to further deepen this relationship and increase revenues for the entire Brazilian sector: “our country is one of the largest, if not the largest exporter in the world, with Asia as its biggest customer. Therefore, the more advanced in efficiency and technology our ports are, the more we will be increasing our resources and, obviously, bringing more foreign exchange to Brazil. ”

This is the most important race for the maritime transport sector today: the search for modernization and the ability to serve the entire world at our terminals. Port dredging is a very important factor in this equation.

Do you want to know more about Brazilian port complexes and understand how they have been developing in recent years? Just download our special e-book on the subject!

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