APSEZ scripts a turnaround story, unlocks growth potential after acquisitions - Hindustan Times

APSEZ scripts a turnaround story, unlocks growth potential after acquisitions

Apr 19, 2024 01:28 PM IST

APSEZ scripts a turnaround story, unlocks growth potential after acquisitions

New Delhi, The first 100 million tonne took 14 years, the second 5 and the third 3. But the fourth took less than 2 years as Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone handled a record 420 million tonne of cargo in fiscal year ended March 31 .

APSEZ scripts a turnaround story, unlocks growth potential after acquisitions
APSEZ scripts a turnaround story, unlocks growth potential after acquisitions

Cargo handled by India's largest private port operator was up 24 per cent year on year, officials said.

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This included international ports as well. SEZ's domestic ports handled over 408 million tonne of cargo in the fiscal, they said, adding that the company was changing the face of seaports, setting new milestones for operational excellence along the way.

Mundra, the first port of SEZ, welcomed its maiden ship in 1998. Since then, SEZ has built a network of 15 ports and terminals in the east and west coasts of India, redefining infrastructure and operational capabilities to drive maritime trade, both within and outside the country.

SEZ's journey towards becoming the largest port operator in India has been marked by the acquisition of strategic assets across the country’s coasts.

Officials said in line with its vision for growth and innovation, the company has been identifying ports with the potential to help it expand its footprint and provide it with a platform for transforming these facilities.

Two examples of this are the Dhamra port in Odisha and Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Situated on the east coast of the country, Dhamra Port in Bhadrak district of Odisha has emerged as a critical hub for dry cargo shipment in the region.

The all-weather port, about a four-hour drive from the state capital Bhubaneswar, is capable of handling some of the largest vessels on the high seas. Ten years ago, it handled just around 14 million tonne of cargo. Now, its capacity has gone up to over 42 million tonne, a three-fold increase, according to officials.

About 1,200 km from Dhamra, Krishnapatnam Port in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh is a multi-commodity facility. It caters to the southern region of the country that has power, cement, and steel among other industries. In the past three years, the port's cargo handling capacity has gone up 17 per cent.

After their acquisition, SEZ studied the existing facilities at Dhamra and Krishnapatnam and addressed the gaps by implementing tried and tested systems, officials said.

From optimising port operations by improving processes for cargo handling and storage to streamlining logistics operations and building inland infrastructure to ensure seamless movement of cargo, SEZ has been constantly innovating and evolving to meet the changing needs of partners, customers, and stakeholders.

"While acquiring strategic assets, SEZ assesses the needs and potential for growth. The emphasis is on improving infrastructure and upgrading them to improve efficiency, optimise resources and sweat the assets.

"For example, Dhamra port had two berths in 2014. Now, it has five. A single railway line was earlier used for the transportation of cargo; now, another line is being laid to connect it to the national railway network. Similar infrastructure has been created to strengthen the road network," said an SEZ official.

The deep draft port, SEZ's first buy on the east coast, can accommodate capesize vessels and caters to industries in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

In 2014, it handled nearly 14.3 million tonne of cargo. In March 2024, it handled 42.8 million tonne, marking a 3X growth. Dhamra also has a Liquefied Natural Gas terminal of 5 million tonne capacity that helps fulfil the requirements of Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Krishnapatnam, an all-weather, deep-water port acquired by SEZ in 2020, is equipped to handle large vessels and offers multimodal connectivity through road and railway lines. Electrification of cranes has been one of the major upgrades at the facility.

Its current capacity is 75 million tonne, a significant increase from 64 million tonne four years ago, officials said.

Apart from world-class infrastructure and dedicated storage facilities, it has mechanised cargo handling systems, which increase operational efficiency and reduce turnaround time.

"Mechanisation to facilitate loading and unloading of cargo through rakes, conveyer systems that ensure efficient movement of cargo from vessels and digitisation of processes reduce turnaround time at our ports. They drive competitiveness, enhance capacity and increase efficiency. And this has positioned SEZ as a preferred partner for shipping lines and cargo companies," the official said.

Karaikal port in Puducherry is in the vicinity of power plants and cement factories. Since it was taken over by SEZ in 2023, it has seen a significant turnaround in cargo volume. In FY23, it handled nearly 10 million tonne of cargo; in FY24, the number went up to 13 million tonne.

SEZ is known for its customer-centric approach, innovative logistics solutions, quick turnaround time and fast cargo and container evacuation processes. In fact, the learnings from Mundra - the use of technology, innovation and processes - have been replicated at all other ports owned by SEZ.

In one port, the turnaround time - a strong indicator of operational expertise - has been cut from 7.5 hours to 3.5 hours by improving processes and use of technology, they said.

Over the years, SEZ has successfully transformed its acquired assets into smart, technology-driven hubs with real-time tracking and monitoring solutions. Through regular training programmes, it ensures optimal utilisation of resources and upskilling of manpower.

"SEZ's journey shows how it has strived for operational excellence. By leveraging operational capabilities and commitment to excellence, it has transformed ports and set new benchmarks for efficiency and productivity. As it continues its quest for growth and innovation, SEZ remains poised to shape the future of India’s maritime infrastructure and contribute to the nation's economic development and prosperity," said the official.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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