Berth productivity on mega-container ships slipped in 2014 on a global basis, underscoring the continuing challenges that ports, terminals and container lines are facing in combating congestion and delays at major seaports around the world, according to US-based market analyst IHS Inc.

The number of total containers loaded, off-loaded and re-stowed per hour on mega-container ships of 13,000 TEUs and greater dipped to 116 in 2014 from 118 in 2012 and 2013, the company’s productivity data shows.

The dip has been attributed to the lack of improvement in berth productivity keeping ships longer in port, forcing other vessels to wait at anchor, creating delays in the transfer of containers between feeder and line-haul ships, and forcing carriers to speed up — and burn more fuel — to maintain schedules.

The issue of lengthy port stay times on the largest container ships is becoming a growing concern for container lines seeking to cut costs and operate efficiently, and for exporters experiencing chronic delays in their supply chains.

Ports in Asia and the Middle East continue to achieve the highest productivity, IHS data shows.

Globally, the United Arab Emirates’ port of Jebel Ali moved into the number one ranking, with 131 container moves per hour in 2014, up from 119 in 2013.

China’s ports of Tianjin and Qingdao held their number two and three positions, with 127 and 126 average moves per hour, respectively.

Among terminals, APM Terminals Yokohama and Tianjin Port Pacific International Container Terminal held their positions as numbers one and two while China’s Qingdao Qianwan Container Terminal moved up to number three, averaging 136 containers moved per ship, per hour.

Source: World Maritime News