Maritime | Maritime and Transport

Giving ‘berth’ to peak efficiency: the challenge for Australia’s ports

20 Nov 2014, by Informa Australia

Jim Cooper is CEO of one of Victoria’s major bulk shipping ports, Port of Portland. This deep-water port is located near international shipping channels which handles the export and import of bulk commodities and break bulk such as mineral sands, plantation-grown woodchips, logs, grains, alumina and aluminium ingots, livestock, fertiliser and wind turbines.

Jim will be speaking at the Maritime Structures conference on 3-4 December in Sydney.

Jim CooperJim, can you please tell us a little bit about your background in freight and logistics?

I joined Port of Portland in 2006 specifically to manage the development of a new port facility for exporting plantation woodchips.  Port of Portland is now one of the top 3 ports in the world for paper companies which need to source millions of tonnes of plantation wood fibre for the paper and tissue markets in China and Japan.  I came from the agricultural sector where I had overseen negotiations and contracts for logistics for AWB in Australia’s grain markets.  This experience in contracts for trains, trucks and ships for grain translated well to the work at Port of Portland.  Since 2006 the new wood chip facility has been built at Port of Portland and we are now exporting over 3 million tonnes of wood fibre each year.

What are the major challenges you face as the CEO of the Port of Portland?

We have limited land at Port of Portland – 62 hectares – and it is fully allocated.  The biggest challenge we have at the Port is optimising the use of the land for the various exporters and importers, ensuring that they can berth their ships promptly and minimise their port costs.  We work on this issue everyday and we are constantly looking at options for speeding trade and reducing costs for customers.

Is there a particular career highlight that you would like to tell us about?

I am particularly proud of the asset management system and the safety management system we have implemented in the past year at Port of Portland.  Each of these systems is arguably at the top end of system quality and we are enjoying the benefits of better administration in those areas.  I am also proud that we have grown our business year on year for the past three years, increasing trade and returns for our customers and shareholders.

You will be part of our C-Level Panel at Maritime Structures 2014: “Steering the Maritime Industry in the right direction”. What do you perceive to be the biggest issues facing the sector?

Definitely the biggest issue facing the sector is the inefficient and ineffective approach we take to developing infrastructure in Australia.

Book now for Maritime Structures, 3-4 December

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