Rotterdam Cements its Position as Europe's Busiest Port

Port of Rotterdam / courtesy Freek van Arkel

By The Maritime Executive 02-15-2018 08:04:00

The Port of Rotterdam is already Europe's busiest, both by TEU and by tonnage, and its lead is only growing. Rotterdam's share of the European container market is now at 31 percent, its highest level since 2000.

Last year, containerized cargo throughput at Rotterdam rose by a spectacular 11 percent to reach 13.7 million TEU. Growth was especially strong in the second half of the year, with performance up 12 percent over the same period in 2016. 

Most of the growth was in traffic to and from Asia, South America and North America. Feeder volume for all European shipping areas also grew by 21 percent, with especially strong performance for Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Throughput at the ultramodern Maasvlakte 2 terminals rose sharply, despite last summer's well-publicized cyberattack at APMT, and volume also increased at almost all other terminals.

"The port of Rotterdam has had a good year. Led by the container sector, goods throughput rose to a record level. The container sector is particularly important because it plays an essential role in creating added value such as employment in the port and the hinterland," said Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. "I am also satisfied with the high level of investment because it will allow us to facilitate our new and existing customers even better."

Castelein pointed to Rotterdam's extensive investments in digitalization as a way to retain its front-running position. The Port of Rotterdam is already home to some of the most advanced terminals in the world, and it is rolling out multiple new tech initiatives in a bid to become the "smartest port" on the planet.

In its latest program, the port will work with IBM, Cisco and Axians to build a centralized dashboard for collecting and analyzing real-time data on water, weather, berth availability and comms, which the port says will make traffic management safer and more efficient. An "Internet of Things" network of sensors throughout the port's quays and roads will provide constant updates on real-world conditions. "Speed and efficiency is essential to our business, and requires us to use all of the data available to us. Thanks to real-time information . . . we can enormously improve the service we provide to everyone who uses the port, and prepare to embrace the connected, autonomous shipping of the future," said port CFO Paul Smits.