Port Business
eBook - ePub

Port Business

Second Edition

Jürgen Sorgenfrei

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  1. 560 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Port Business

Second Edition

Jürgen Sorgenfrei

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About This Book

Port Business is essential reading for all those with an interest in trade and transportation and the role of ports in the global supply chain. It discusses the various types of ports in existence, identifies the major ports per category, analyzes what the key business drivers are, describes their governance, how they are managed, which trends influence them, and what kind of impact they have on supply chains.

Dr. Jürgen Sorgenfrei uses his significant consulting and project development experience within the international ports, shipping, rail & logistics sector, and in global economics, trade, analytics, and forecasting as well as in intermodal hinterland transport to provide this comprehensive overview of port management. The book is a combination of a strong background in principles and practical knowledge and is an indispensable resource for those interested in maritime economics.


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De Gruyter

Part 1:Development of Ports

Chapter 1

History of Ports: The Ten Aims of a Port

The maritime movement of goods and people has always been the cheapest and most convenient form of transportation, and for that reason the world has built ports since at least 6,000 BC. The advancements made to ports over their historical development reveal their major functions and what drives port business. Below are the highlights of ancient port development: a brief history of the moments and motivations that led us to the harbors of today. In all, there are ten objectives that ports could be designed to accomplish. They will be introduced as we proceed through the chapter.
It is more than fifty years ago that Fritz Voigt published his famous textbook about transport science theory and global traffic development, named “Verkehr.” In the first half of Part II he gave an overview about the historic development of all modes of transportation. Already in the preliminary remarks he stated: “Der geschichtliche Teil soll ... vorzugsweise die Theorie der Verkehrswirtschaft ergänzen und die volkswirtschaftliche Gestaltungskraft des Verkehrs systems … aufzeigen” (Voigt 1965, page 3), loosely translated: “The historical studies should preferably complement the theory of transport science and demonstrate the economic power of the transport system.” His understanding was that theory should always be measured at reality. Landing stages and ports evolved alongside the technology of the ships that they served. Initially, ports were simple wooden posts that served to tie rafts, dugout logs or curved wooden branches covered with the hides of animals.1 As river traffic increased, simple piers were built to accommodate deeper ships that carried larger and heavier loads. The first two of the ten targets were accomplished back in Ancient Egypt.

1.1Ancient Egypt

Egyptian history dates to about 4000 BC, when the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt, already highly sophisticated, were united. The earliest known pyramids in Egypt are the pyramids of Saqqara, located approximately 20 km south of modern-day Cairo. Of huge interest from a construction point of view is also the so-called forgotten pyramid in Abu Rawash; built by Khufu’s2 son Djedefre, and most likely destroyed during the reign of roman emperor Octavian. The area of Giza plateau, today a tourist highlight in Egypt, is a vast burial ground, serving as the necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, built during the Third Dynasty, which spans approximately from 2686 to 2613 BC.
Before, by the time of the early dynastic period of Egyptian history, approximately 3100 BC, those with sufficient means were buried in bench-like structures known as Mastabas. The first documented Egyptian pyramid is attributed to the architect Imhotep, who planned what Egyptologists believe to be a tomb for the pharaoh Djoser. Imhotep is credited with being the first to conceive the notion of stacking Mastabas on top of each other—creating an edifice composed of several “steps” that decreased in size toward its apex. The result was the Step Pyramid of Djoser that was designed to serve as a gigantic stairway by which the soul of the deceased pharaoh could ascend to the heavens. Such was the importance of Imhotep’s achievement that he was deified by later Egyptians. Both Mastabas and Pyramids functioned as tombs for pharaohs. In Ancient Egypt, a pyramid was referred to as mer, literally “place of ascendance.”
Mastabas and Pyramids continue to be some of the most impressive human buildings.3 Although it is impossible to measure the real weight of a pyramid, calculations show that still today in the 21st century the later built Great Pyramid of Khufu on the Giza plateau is still one of the largest structures ever raised by man. And it is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence.
Having the impressive dimensions of the ancient Egyptian buildings in mind, and bearing in mind that we talk about a historic time that is approximately 5,000 years ago, consider: how did they erect these impressive buildings? Where did the material come from? How did they organize the transport from the mines to the construction field? And finally: what role did ancient harbors and ports play in the building of the pyramids?
At construction, the Great Pyramid is estimated to have weighed 5.9 million tons. Based on this estimate, building the structure in twenty years would require installing approximately 800 metric tons (mt) of stone every day. Similarly, since it consists of an estimated 2.3 million blocks, completing the building in twenty years would involve moving an average of more than twelve of the blocks into place each hour, day and night.4 Additionally, many of the casing stones and inner chamber blocks of the Great Pyramid were fit together with extremely high precision. Based on measurements taken on the north eastern casing stones, the mean opening of the joints is only 0.5 millimeters wide (1/50th of an inch). Where did the millions of limestone and granite blocks come from, and how did the Egyptians organize deliveries of twelve blocks per hour, every hour, for twenty years? In modern words: how were the logistics organized?
It is generally believed that much of the limestone was transported from nearby quarries. The Tura limestone used for the casing was quarried across the river Nile. The largest granite stones in the pyramid, found in the “King’s chamber,” weigh 25 to 80 mt and were transported from Aswan, more than 500 miles away. Once the blocks were cut, they were carried by boat either up or down the Nile to the pyramid site. It is estimated that 5.5 million tons of limestone, 8,000 tons of granite (imported from Aswan), and 500,000 tons of mortar were used in the construction of the Great Pyramid. A huge part of this has been carried by ship on the river and on special canals, which allowed having the material directly at the construction field. At the end of the canal there must have been a special purpose unloading facility, that is, a specialized port.
Generally speaking, a harbor is a protected area of water. A port is a harbor, plus terminal facilities: piers, wharves, docks, store buildings, and an infrastructure of roads and rivers or canals. Therefore, a harbor is just a very important part of a port. On the Giza construction field there was no natural harbor. It can thus be concluded that the ancient Egyptians were the first civilization to construct purpose-built artificial canals and harbors, equipped with specialized handling facilities, that is, the first ports in human history.
Figure 1.1, a copy taken from a relief in Hatschepsut temple in Dar el-Bahari (Eggebrecht 1984, page 374), shows the ship transport of two obelisks on the river Nile. Calculations assume that both obelisks shown in the relief have a length of 29.50 m, and each of them is fixed on its own wooden sledge. The total weight of the obelisks is expected to sum up to 650 tons. On both sides of the ship transport there must have been specialized loading and unloading facilities; the first known heavy lift port facilities.
Figure 1.1: Egyptian ship carrying obelisks
It is very likely that the first ports that were built for the construction of the pyramids were the first specialized cargo handling facility for maritime trade in human history. No specialized facilities were necessary for the cargoes carried before the pyramids, also not for fishery boats. We do not know in which years the first ports were constructed, nor do we know where exactly these ports were located; but to honor the ancient Egyptians we will call these first commercial cargo ports with specialized facilities Egyptian Pyramid Ports.
Calculations from Egyptologists show that the capacity of a typical “Pyramid Port” like the specialized cargo port for the Great Khufu pyramid must have been able to unload on average seven vessels per day, each boat carrying ten blocks of stone (Illig 1999, page 46). It is very likely that for the great pyramid two specialized port facilities in Giza were in operation. Total annual capacities of these port facilities were:
7 vessel * 10 stones = 70 blocks of stone per day
Each block at least 2 metric tons * 70 blocks = 140 mt per day
365 days * 140 mt = 51,100 mt annual capacity
51,100 mt per year multiplied by twenty years of construction comes to a total volume of a little more than 1 mill ton. This means that only 17% of the total mass of 5.9 mill mt were carried by boat, or looked at the other way around: the majority of limestone blocks were broken near the construction field and were probably not carried by vessel.5
The quadrangular blocks of limestone were carved with copper chisels; copper because it was the only metal available 1,500 years before iron was discovered. The copper ore very likely arrived via the purpose-built port of Wadi al-Jarf at the west coast of the Red Sea; another example for port business elicited by the pharaohs for building their pyramids.6 As a result, a typical Pyramid Port had an annual throughput of more than 50,000 ton per year. In today’s categories, these ports were specialized general cargo handling facilities featuring heavy lift equipment. These ancient ports were part of an integral logistics chain with one final goal: to erect the pyramids as a holy tomb for the pharaoh. Even today, a capacity of 50,000 tons is a huge amount of cargo—and this was being transported at a time without specialized handling equipment and without any kind of power machines!
The core functions of all Pyramid Ports were to ensure the sovereignty of the ruler. Or in other words: ports in ancient Egypt did not fulfill any military or security function, nor were they used for large volumes of trade. The first step in histor...

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