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The role of value chain activities have been recognized by many organizations of today as being paramount among all their concerns with regards to business operation. Just like in the conduct of any business, container terminalsââ‚¬â„¢ value chain strategy involves a group of vertically aligned organizations and strategies that enable the business to add value to the service in moving from basic supplies to finished products for end-users which are both for consumers and organizations. Value chain in the perspectives of ports and container terminals are used to describe those activities which are related to distribution being different from manufacturing and operations functions and they are also geared towards underlining the supreme purpose of establishing customer value. Value chain activities in the context of container terminals could also refer generally to the processes, organizations, activities, and structures which when combined can create value for the consuming public as the products move from one point to the other until it reach the end of the chain (Cravens & Piercy, 2006).
In the operation of container terminals, one of the most critical aspects in the field of value chain management would most probably be the distribution functions and operations of the organizations. Container terminals might possibly differ in aspects and dimensions such as size, lay-out, and function, but the process of distribution and operation is almost just the same except for some modifications which are dependent on the individual strategies of the container terminals and ports on how they can achieve maximum customer service to make the public satisfied with whatever their business provides. According to Kim and Gunther (2007), the most common of operations in the container terminals involve a ship operation in a specific area where it is equipped with the necessary cranes and other types of equipments which will be helpful in the mobility of the products being transported or carried by the containers. They are then stack in yards in blocks and separated in areas. For instance, reefer vans are placed in different areas particularly because of their need for electric plug requirements.
Still according to Kim and Gunther (2007), the chain of operations in container terminals can be described by starting at the terminal after the arrival of the truck or train then data is being extracted in order to obtain significant information. It is then picked up by a transport system dependent on the policies of the terminal operations then they are brought on yards where they are stocked. They have pre-determined positions on the areas of storage such as their respective rows and blocks to facilitate ease in operation and also the movement of containers in the terminal. When the designated vehicle arrived at the terminal, the containers are detached then cranes and other kind of machines are used to be able to stack the containers and put them on their positions. The reverse of the process is to be done if the containers are going to be pulled out and transported to a different place or terminal.
The analysis of the chain of operations of the container terminals as shown in the above paragraphs is reflective of how the operations are adding value to each step of the process in order to arrive at an end which will prove remarkable performance of service at a process which was able to optimize all operations.
One of the operations in the container terminals industry which adds to its value chain is most probable the allocation of resources in the container yards, particularly the space. Space is sometimes very limited in the container terminal operation that is why the management recognizes the need to allocate enough and optimize the use of all available space in the yard to be assured of proper container handling and proper flow of operations despite the problem with lacking spaces. It must be noted that the storage location of the containers show a relationship as being able to affect the productivity of the product handling activities. To be able to provide only the best service to the end-users, a careful planning strategy on the lay-out of the container terminal is very necessary to be assured that the containers moved the right way and that they are properly handled to show quality and dedicated service. The allocation and the formation of yard cranes and other machines or equipments in the terminal should also be properly considered because they will have a significant effect on how the process is operating and how they containers are being transported. To be able to increase the value in the chain of container terminal operations, there is a relevant need to maximize lay-out and process plans to enjoy smooth and flawless process flow as the goods are being transported from one point to the other (Langevin & Riopel, 2005). A careful understanding of the process flow inside the operations of container terminals is needing an in depth analysis and evaluation to be able to pin-point all the critical aspects of operation which must be given significant emphasis in the management of the value chain. It must be remembered and noted that the value chain involves the process of getting the goods from one point to the other while trying to maximize every step on the process and achieving maximum satisfaction at the end of the chain. In the case of the operations of the container terminals, there is a need to analyze these things to ensure proper product handling and to be ensured that the products which are placed inside the containers will be able to reach the end-users while they are still of premium quality because they are handled and transported properly through a carefully designed and evaluated container terminal process and operation lay-out.
ADDING VALUE TO CONTAINER TERMINAL SERVICES
Many companies at present, even practical service providers such as those which provide container terminal services are confronted by the occurrence of a competitive market where other major players are slowly and gradually settling. To be able to manage such competition, container terminal service providers and members of the other industries as well are continuous in their efforts to be able to improve their marketing strategies and to add value to every step of the chain of their operations recognizing the fact that such will put them in the pedestal of business operation success.
One of the ways in which value is added in the operation of container terminals is reflective in the management of its operations. For instance, in the past year, many terminal companies have explored the possibility of vertical integration. Under vertical integration, the main business is commonly maritime shipping but they have also invested in container terminals for the purpose of giving support functions. In this strategy, they most commonly form strategic alliances in order to form a more dynamic supply chain management functions which will eliminate other unnecessary functions and unnecessary costs because they are already working on a horizontal scheme and they have to deal with their own partners rather than any other businesses.
Another way in which value can be added to the operations of container terminal services is to improve its weak points which have been regarded as threatening to their operations according to professionals and other studies which were completed aiming to improve their performance. Overtime, it has been recognized and assumed that there are criticisms haunting container terminal service providers that they have deep pockets and they also have lack of transparency in terms of control causing fear to generate among their leading customers. This cultural attachment has been assumed to be their weak spot. To be bale to ad value in the chain of operations and to eliminate such fear, they must be bale to be transparent in their operations and try to document every transaction so that they will have basis for operations. To avoid the conception on their deep pockets, expenses must be carefully stipulated to provide a record of how much is really spent on their operations as against with how much they charge for the service that they provide. Transparency in its operation is very important because it gives the public an assurance that every process in the chain is reliable (Notteboom & Rodrigue, 2000).
To be able to add to the value chain of container terminals, it is also recognized that there is a need to manage competition and the volatility of the economy. It is of paramount importance that the management of these container terminals must be bale to understand the need of the customers and the importance of both marketing and distribution strategies as being essential in the completion of the value chain. There is a need to reduce slack in production to be more competitive and to be able to acquire lower costs in the course of its operations (Wang & Cullinane, 2006).
GOLDEN JUBILLEE CONTAINER TERMINAL
The opening for business of the Golden Jubilee Terminal gave the public in Ghana another option for receiving and handling containers. Aside from the own efforts of the management to potentially add to the value chain of their operations, the operations of GJT is still subject to implementing rules and regulations. With that, it can be assumed that efforts to potentially improve the value chain will not only depend on the decisions of the management on what they think could be best done in order to add value in their operational chain. These efforts must also be assured to abide by the ongoing laws and regulations stipulated by the government or nay other authorized governing bodies which are external to the organization.
The operation of GJT undeniably adds value to the service it provides from one end to the other. According to Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority, the services which were provided to the public by GJT were well-thought and carefully planned so that they can add value to these services and they try to put the hearts of the customers in everything that they do. To be able toe establish a more dynamic value chain management system, putting the concerns of the customers on top of all priorities is paramount to operational strategies. Without thinking about the needs and preferences of the customers who generate revenue for their operations, it will be almost impossible for the company to be able to add value in the value chain.
The main service which is provided by GJT is called Receipt Delivery Service (RDS). It enables the company to provide facilities which are geared towards being able to provide a process to receive, store, and deliver items from container vans. This process is optimized and improved through carefully designed facilities and evaluated operational practices which are practiced in order to provide better service and product handling activities.
According to Russell & Taylor (2006), gaining an additional to the value chain entails all activities and practices which are generally aimed towards establishing a good quality, fair price, and fast and accurate delivery of service or products. And one perhaps of the best ways in which fats and accurate delivery can be performed is to establish a software or program which will run the entire operation of the container terminal and make sure that all relevant data are extracted for fast retrieval of any needed information and to facilitate a better service performance. One of this software which is available for use is the Container Terminal Management System which is carefully designed software aimed to be use for managing the flow and process of containers which are used in terminals. One of the companies using this kind of software is GJT being an off-dock container terminal serving a myriad of needs not only for Ghana but for global customers as well. Like the main uses and benefits which are being associated with the sue of such software in the business of container terminals, computer software of today is becoming a valuable tool which will aid in fleet planning and management with central control and monitoring capabilities on updated information on all sources particularly those associated with port management (Branch, 2007).
Another activity which was done by the management in order to add value to its operation is the improvement with regards to the custom procedures in Ghana port. It has been acknowledged that these improved custom procedures are making clearance procedure appear to be less cumbersome for the customers thereby can generate significant saving on time and physical effort. An automated system was established in order to make the process easier and faster. These activities enabled shortened clearance process and shortened devaluation process up to only two hours.
IMPACT ON GJT
The activities and measures which were executed by GJT in order to add value in its operations are showing great impact on business performance. Typically, all activities in the value chain must be able to provide realizable benefits which can translate into greater revenues and improved business performance. As mentioned, one of the most practical ways in which GJT was able to add value in its operation is by understanding the hearts of the customers or their client base. This shows a great impact on the operations of the container terminal because such is very reflective of their undying commitment to serve the needs of the public. By putting the needs and the preferences at the heart of any business operation, it is assumed that the business will gain a valuable client base because they are deemed to be providing what has been sought by the public.
The facilities and equipments of GJT which were also carefully designed, evaluated, and well-thought are also showing a great impact on the operations of GJT. Because of these improved facilities and processes are also beneficial to operation because it allows them to maximize productivity and business function. Without the improved facilities, the process will not be optimal as well. The significance of these facilities and equipments lie in the fact that they are a pre-requisite towards improved customer service to generate customer satisfaction.
The Container Terminal Management Software which was used by GJT in their operations is showing to have a great impact in the business operation of the company. The software has a beneficial impact for the company because it enables them to monitor and track the movement and contents of the containers within the premises of their terminals. Moreover, it also impacted their operation in the sense that enables them to have an easier operation and process flow because the software enables the management to be able to be provided with a graphic lay-out of the entire terminal showing the stacks, rows, and columns of the placement of the containers in the terminal which is also beneficial to improve processes associated with product handling. Another impact of this value added activity in the value chain is that it enables the company to be able to provide an effective interaction with other networks which share valuable information regarding the container terminal operation (Times End Computers, 2006).
The improvement and automation which was done with the customs procedure also showed a significant impact on the business of GJT. This automation allowed easier business transaction procedures eliminating the hassle of the manual system which sued to cost a lot of time and effort physically. With the automation and renewed custom policies and procedures, things are now easier and processes are done and finished at a faster phase. This allows increased productivity for the business because it enables them to do more things in a given span of time. It must be realized that ports should enhance capacity to optimize productivity (Le-Griffin & Murphy, 2006).
IMPROVEMENTS TO ADD VALUE
The discussions which were presented above shows how GJT was bale to add value to its operations as well as how these values were able to impact the course of their business operations. However, through carefully studying the best practices in the industry it can be noted that there are still some significant points which must be adapted by GJT to be able to potentially add more value to business operations.
Being a developed country in the Asian region, the ports of Singapore has continuously gained recognition from different groups regarding their good practice, port management, and container terminal services which have gained appreciation from a wide customer market around the globe. Compared to Ghana Ports and Harbor Authority, it is assumed that the PSA Terminals in Singapore has been regarded for rendering a service that is exemplary taking the most care needed by the goods and transit as they claim to have the best in the facilities and equipments which are related to container terminal services (PSA Singapore, 2010).
For GJT to improve and add more value in its operation, it can gain the ways in which such could be done through being able to adapt with the best practices in the field of container terminal services. The value chain can be further improved through modifications and additions which can be derived from practices of other terminals as well as researches which study the phenomenon of container terminal services business operation.
With regards to the best practices in the industry, one way in which the value chain of GJT can be improved is through a well evaluated operations planning in which there is a detailed planning activity and a well-enhanced contingency plan which will back up the entire operation and will not cause bigger problems in the future. To potentially add to the value of the organization, it is also recommended for GJT to have comprehensive information systems which will aid in better facilitation of some organizational activities. The Container Terminal Management Software that is presently being sued needs also to be constantly updated as the time is calling for innovation and as the business is confronted by more complicated problems. Dedicated and perpetually improved software is a must to be able to add value to operations and to be assured that the end of the chain will always equate into satisfaction. Lastly, terminal safety and security is also recommended to be a primary consideration for the port authority at GJT. It is important to assure the public that their properties are safe when they are under the control of GJT. The business must be bale to establish a credible and reputable name in the corporate world and to potentially ad another significant value in their chain of operations (Button & Hensher, 2001).