Chain Problem at Sea Ports

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Proposed Title of Research

What are the Supply chain problem at Sea ports and its effects on the efficiency of seaports? This paper takes a look at Karachi Seaport and Dubai Seaport.


A supply chain takes take care of the movement of materials which flow from the supplier to the customer. There are a long number of processes such as purchasing, manufacturing, transportation, demand supplying and Supply Chain Management. It is basically a well planned system which involves a sizeable number of organizations, technology, people, activities, information and resources which are utilized in transporting either a service or a product from the supplier to customer. The supply chain mainly consists of getting the end product delivered to the customer. Mass transportation is one of the oldest way of moving goods and the most effective. It is an important component of the supply chain and is one which helps move the international trade. Seaports are the most important parts of the supply chain movement as they are facilitators of the flow of trade and also provide logistics for others. They are the main gateways to international markets and form an important part of the distribution system.

Literature Review

Ports and Terminals are one of the most important components of a supply chain. They also need to improve the way they perform and help to facilitate the supply chains. Supply chain orientation is defined as ''the recognition by an organization of the systemic, strategic implications of the tactical activities involved in managing the various flows in a supply chain'' (Mentzer et al., 2001). This concept encompasses the concept of supply chain inte- gration, which refers to the extent to which separate parties work together in a cooperative manner to arrive at mutually acceptable outcomes. Supply chain orientation therefore uses constructs and measurements pertaining to the degree of cooperation, coordination, interaction and collaboration (O'Leary and Flores, 2002).

Due to the changes brought by globalization the roles of ports have changed drastically in the area of production and distribution. (e.g. Robinson, 2002; Carbone and De Martino, 2003; Bichou and Gray, 2004; Notteboom and Rodrigue, 2005).

It is crucial for ports to integrate themselves with a supply chain so that they can understand the focus of shippers. Traditionally ports were part of the maritime transport chain and it was only recently that they became part of the supply chain. Historically most of the earlier chains were quite inefficient and had no proper management. They had a value but due to their flaws were unable to provide much.

In order for seaports to be efficient they need to produce quality services. They must be stable and have the ability to keep improving themselves. They should also have a proper plan in place and a proper leadership to produce high quality services.

Ports are known as the buffers between ships and shores as they provide a way for space, storage, structure, cargo operation within their area. the functions are stand alone in comparison to other parts of the supply chain. (e.g. Cullinane et al., 2002, Tongzon and Heng, 2005).

Due to the increase of production networks globally logistics and transportation firms have grown stronger.  One of the biggest examples of large global terminal operators is the Dubai Ports World which has brought about a strategy of integrating, merging and leasing terminals outside of its home base. Even though some global supply chains have emerged and brought about changes in the maritime logistical sector (Slack 2004; Notteboom 2004; World Bank 2001) there are still problems associated with the sector.

According to Rowe and Barnes (1998) a company's ability to develop long-term and trusting associations has a lot of value because it results in a complex phenomenon that would be very difficult and costly to imitate.

The importance of port supply chain orientation has been well established. There is a lot of recognition  about the fact that  ports are increasingly integrated in supply chains . this can be proved in papers written by Robinson, 2002 R. Robinson, Ports as elements in value-driven chain systems: the new paradigm, Maritime Policy and Management 25  (1) (2002), pp. 21-40.Robinson (2002), Paixao and Marlow (2003), Marlow and Paixao (2003), Carbone and De Martino (2003), Bichou and Gray (2004), Notteboom and Rodrigue (2005), Panayides (2006) and Panayides and Song (2006).

These papers have studied the importance of supply chain orientation for the various seaports and their impacts on port performance. Ports can benefit the port users by customizing their services and providing value-added services even at higher prices. It is vitally important to have a long term relationship with the port users as it will provide solutions which are effective, efficient and relevant. (Bowersox et al., 2000). Kalwani and Narayandas (1995)

To achieve intermodal operational synchronization, it is essential to have an appropriate governance structure in the relationship between ports and shipping lines (Panayides, 2002 Ph.M. Panayides, Economic organization of intermodal transport, Transport Reviews 22 (4) (2002), pp. 401-414. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (15)Panayides, 2002).

Ports are also known as a two way street as they can accept and send traffic. They are also known as bi-directional logistics systems as they require a lot of effort in the form of co-ordination and connectivity.  A large number of operations in the ports are mostly containers so that's why they need a port terminal.

Robinson (2002) pointed out that the choice of ports is made in the context of the overall supply chain and thus competition is between alternative supply chains or routes. Thus, cargo flows will seek for routes that offer the lowest cost and the ports that offer efficient hinterland accessibility due to productivity, efficiency and reliability in inter-modal transport connectivity and inter-operability.


The main aim of this paper is to take a look at the supply chain problems associated with sea ports and its effect on their efficiency. Even though it has been established that ports and their terminals are part of the supply chain there are still some problems associated with it. The research aims to find out what sort of problems are associated with seaports and the supply chain. It also aims to check the efficiency and performance of the supply chain and how they can be improved.

The  objectives of this paper are:

  • To review supply chain framework and models.
  • To identify supply chain models associated with seaports and its effect on the efficiency of it's service
  • To take a look at the flaws of the supply chain model
  • To draft solutions for improving the problems of the supply chain model in seaports
  • To use the example of the Dubai Seaport and Karachi Seaport as a test subject to test the efficiency of supply chain


The best way to conduct the research would be to look at two of the main research paradigms which are positivist and interpretivist. Since most of the research would be looking at facts and figures it would mean that part of the research would be utilizing the interpretivist approach. This is because the qualtitative data will be easier to comprehend. Overall there are three types of research methodologies: positivist, realist and interpretivist. Interpretivist actually allows one to make a conclusion based on valid facts and after studying the research material. The positivist school of thought allows for a more philosophical approach and allows the researcher to come up with his/her own assumptions. At the end of the research the whole framework will be established. The research will come up with all the facts and figures related to the supply chain problem with seaports. The information will be backed up with official information. Since there will be a lot of numbers and there will also be a bit of information this will be a combination of both qualitative and quantitative research. It would be an obvious thing that the research to be conducted will require the interpretivist method.


The research approach will mainly use the inductive approach so that all the collated data can be analysed properly. This will allow for a proper research finding to be made. The research approach all depends on the availability of time and resources for the researcher. Since the research involves using two sea ports as an example it would be important to utilize the case study approach. In a nutshell the research approach is the methodology required to conduct the research. This is the finals stage where all the questions are approved or disapproved. This is also where the primary and secondary sources are finalized. Research can be conducted in either of the two says: deductive and inductive. The inductive theory involves collecting data which is based on a theory while the deductive theory relies on data which is processed through a research strategy