With over $750 million invested, the Suez Canal and Container Terminal (SCCT) is set to become a key Egyptian shipping hub, with the capacity to successfully compete with any of the existing ports in the Mediterranean.
Initiated in 1999 and operational since 2004, 55 percent of the company is owned by APM Terminals, 20 percent by COSCO, 10 percent by Suez Canal and Affiliates and 5 percent by the National Bank of Egypt, with the remaining 10 percent share divided between Egyptian private sector investors.
Vital to Egypt’s growth
Klaus Holm Laursen, Managing Director of SCCT highlighted the terminal near Port Said is to play a significant role in Egypt’s future economic expansion, and will play a major part in the government’s Suez Canal Zone; a major infrastructure development aiming to increase trade and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Laursen added that it was the cornerstone of Sisi’s economic plan.
In 2014 the terminal handled upwards of 2.2 million twenty foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) with plans to extend this capacity to exceed 5.4 million per year as part of its ongoing expansion efforts. Currently, SCCT has deployed 20 super post-panamax quay cranes, 58 rubber tyre gantry cranes (RTGs) 165 terminal tractors, and 59 spreaders.
Laursen added: “We are prepared for the huge levels of traffic that are commonly seen today. We have ordered another four of each crane, which has cost over $42 million. We will soon be receiving another five gantry cranes to increase our capacity.” These cranes can reach a height of over 40 metres, enabling them to meet the requirements of the world’s largest container vessels.
The Suez Canal is situated in a critical geographic location, providing the African continent with a direct trade route into Europe and the Middle East. Laursen acknowledged its importance, he said: “it would be truly devastating not to have access to our facilities; not only would costs increased for all those involved, it would also take longer for many goods to enter Egypt and the broader continent.” He also acknowledged that, despite its privileged geographic location, SCCT is in in a competitive environment, jockeying for position with other hubs such Jebel Ali, Alexandria, and Tunis, amongst many others dotted around the Mediterranean.
In such a competitive market, it is vital that SCCT stays ahead of the game; it is leveraging the latest developments in management systems technology in order to maintain its lead. Its successful implementation of the cutting edge Navis N4 Terminal Operating System (OS) is both timely and forward thinking. The new OS is not only innovative for its ability to integrate IT strategy and centralise back office operations; it has the capacity for new technological additions further down the line due to its open architecture.
Laursen said: “It is the most advanced Operating System in the world. If you imagine that the container terminal was like a human body, it was like getting a new brain; before, we had a total of 53 systems running across the terminal.” The Navis N4 OS has been rolled out across many terminals all over the world, but SCCT is perhaps one of the largest operations to do so. According to over three quarters of its customers surveyed, implementing N4 technology has improved both operational visibility and yard equipment utilisation.
Working for a container terminal carries great responsibility at every level, which is why Laursen and his management team are keen to not only establish exemplary working practices, but also to create a positive culture across the business. Perhaps it was this idea which led them to encourage workers to ask: “Why do I come to work?”
He said: “We are trying to create a sense of ownership between our employees and the equipment they operate. An employee that owns his own cab looks after his own much more so than if it belongs to his employer; we have noticed that employees become much more observant and proactive maintaining it.” To ensure that this is reinforced, the company makes sure to provide performance related bonuses.
The culture of the SCCT workforce is certainly enviable, Laursen was keen to recognise how well they could quickly adapt to the change to the N4 OS, he said: “We were impressed with how so many people could adapt all at once to do their jobs in a new way.” It is certainly a credit to both management and the company as a whole for 2000 employees to be quickly adapt to the implementation of a radically modern Operating System.
Corporate Social Responsibility
SCCT recognises that through a carefully executed approach, its growing operations can have a positive impact on both local communities and the environment. Laursen summed up his company’s attitude when he said: “We want to develop a good relationship with the community and we want to provide opportunities for local people.”
The company has realised its vision by providing education opportunities to local communities; it has entered into an agreement with the Egyptian Ministry for Education to fund the construction of a secondary school in Balouza village in the North Sinai Governorate.
SCCT is also keen to invest in the prosperity of future generations, creating roughly a hundred opportunities to become a through its partnership with the Port Training Institute at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport (AASTMT). Laursen commented: “We wanted to help the local the community to provide for themselves; we provided them with fair pay and training, and even provided those that excelled with a job once the apprenticeship expired.”
Reducing its environmental impact has also been a top priority for SCCT. So far it has worked to recycle energy used in its cranes and use solar powered cells to heat much of the water used on site. Interestingly, the company is also exploring greening the surrounding desert to benefit the wider community.
The work of SCCT over the past decade has shown that continuous growth does not simply benefit the local community financially, but also instils skills and attitudes for life. This company’s critical position between three vast economic territories, alongside the diligent management of Klaus Holm Laursen and his team, will ensure that this model of shared success will continue for some considerable time.