Last week, BIMCO President Mr. John Denholm gave an address to the General Stevedoring Council, meeting in London at its 44th Working Lunch. The President took the opportunity to bring GSC members up to date with the current work of BIMCO, pointing out how the organisation continues to respond to the needs of the shipping industry in so many different ways.

The can be no doubt that both in the liner and bulk trades, the work of stevedoring management remains absolutely vital for the safe and expeditious operation of ships. The role of the GSC has been, and continues to be, one of education, promoting best practice through the professional training courses it runs around the world. Once, of course, stevedoring management revolved around the control and deployment of large numbers of men in cargo handling, in the world’s ports. Nowadays stevedoring has become a highly capital intensive operation, with complex terminals playing a vital role in global logistics. Labour still has to be managed, but the sort of skill sets in the relatively small number of people operating container or bulk terminals is very different. Management has also become a far more sophisticated area of business.

Increasingly, as ship operation has become more precise, the work undertaken in port has grown in importance. Port time was always regarded as “non-earning” by owners anxious to keep their ships running productively, but the twin pincers of fuel costs and environmental pressures have focussed more attention than ever on in-port efficiencies.

Efficient port operations enable some of the round-voyage time lost through fuel-saving slower steaming to be recovered, while reducing the total time cargo spends on its journey. So the shipping industry has a very vested interest in the work of the stevedores and will surely encourage the educational work of the GSC to this end.

The GSC courses are designed to bring together people from a broad range of stevedoring experience from around the world, stimulate their thought processes and enable them to get away from their own local job pressures for the extent of the fortnight’s activities. During this time they will see a range of very advanced terminal operations, in countries other than those in which they normally work and have the opportunity to speak to those managing them. They will have presentations from a range of industry leaders, team up and undertake projects that will be useful to them and above all, learn a great deal from each other.

They will become better informed about cargo handling and the shipping industry worldwide, with the typical course taking in stevedoring managers from every continent. They will invariably make friends and in doing so, become better professionals through this “networking” process. And perhaps most important, the business of cargo handling, in whatever sort of terminal it may be practised, will gain from the spreading of ideas and best practice. BIMCO itself is anxious to see Continuous Professional Development established throughout the shipping industry. The transmission of ideas throughout the stevedoring sector worldwide by this initiative of the GSC can only be encouraged.

Author: The Watchkeeper                                               Source: BIMCO