Laem Chabang Port is undeniably an integral part of the Thai economy. Completed in 1991, the port has been the country’s main gateway to global trade for more than 20 years. Laem Chabang Port is a vital asset for Thailand’s logistics industry, so as market conditions change, the port and its terminal operators need to adapt in order to thrive.
Laem Chabang International Terminal Co., Ltd. (LCIT) is leading the charge for change at Laem Chabang Port. LCIT has been operating container terminal B5 since 1996 and container terminal C3 since 2003. LCIT is a member of DP World’s global network of more than 65 terminals across six continents. DP World, based in Dubai, is one of the world’s largest marine terminal operators; in 2013, the company handled 55 million TEUs around the globe.
With their industry experience, extensive network and resources, LCIT is working to drive change at Laem Chabang and lead the terminal business into the future. In this issue of LM, we spoke with Mr. Alpesh A. Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Prapas Pittayanukoon, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of LCIT.
Leading by Example
As a part of the DP World network of terminals, LCIT has a global perspective and the resources to back it up. As one of the world’s premier terminal operators, they have raised industry standards for various issues, such as safety, the environment and customer service. As such, LCIT follows only the highest international standards in all aspects of its operations.
For instance, DP World has made a very aggressive push for safety in its terminals. Mr. Sharma explains, “DP World has placed a lot of focus on safety in the workplace; we are trying to change the very definition of what safety at work means. Because the stakes are so high, safety is something that cannot be compromised. We are working with such big, powerful machines that even a minor incident can be very harmful. That’s why DP World works very aggressively to make our terminals safe. We work on three tiers. At the global level, DP World headquarters writes the safety policies and standardizes our processes. Then we implement these on a regional level. Lastly, at the terminal level, we localize all the global processes to fit into the working processes of each location.”
The environment is another issue that DP World is very strong on. LCIT has made a large commitment and investment to making sure its facilities, equipment and processes are sustainable.
We have a responsibility to the environment, and we are committed to managing our sustainability on a very large scale.
“We have brought down our carbon footprint in line with UN standards. We strictly monitor and try to limit our water, electricity and fossil fuel usage. For instance, DP World is looking at harvesting rainwater on a global scale. And here at C3 and B5, we have replaced all of our light bulbs with more efficient ones. Our gate booths and offices now use LED lighting, while our cranes and yard lighting use Prismalence, which is specifically designed for the container handling business, and can save 50 to 75 percent of the energy used by conventional light bulbs, ” describes Mr. Pittayanukoon.
Mr. Sharma adds, “One of the biggest investments we have made for sustainability is converting our diesel rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTG) to hybrid systems. Now, they are part-diesel and part-electric, with lower levels of carbon emissions. We’ve already converted five RTGs, with five more currently in the process.” In addition to this, LCIT is also dedicated to organizing activities to give back to the community and the environment. Volunteers from LCIT’s staff have helped plant mangroves in nearby areas, and they have also organized trips to local schools to teach children about the importance of preserving the environment.
LCIT is not only raising industry standards for safety and the environment; the terminal operator also works hard to exceed customers’ expectations for service. Mr. Pittayanukoon says, “We consider customer service to be the most important part of this business. If the customer is not happy, we are not happy; our job is to make sure the customer is satisfied. In order to do that, we must truly understand the requirements of the customer, look at their expectations, and deliver in line with those expectations. We have to continuously communicate with the customer to understand what challenges they are facing and where they need our help.”
LCIT also emphasizes providing flexibility for the customer. Since we operate two terminals at Laem Chabang Port, we can offer a greater degree of flexibility in terms of vessel sizes, arrival times, equipment, and many other factors.
LCIT has been very successful with the investment and long-term commitment they have made in Thailand. DP World recognizes the massive potential in doing business in Thailand and at Laem Chabang Port. Mr. Pittayanukoon comments, “Since the oldest terminal here at Laem Chabang Port is now more than 20 years old, Thailand’s container terminal industry is coming of age. With two decades of success behind us and many opportunities still ahead of us, the industry should continue moving forward to support the next phase of growth in Thailand.”
Due to the worldwide trend of commissioning larger vessels, terminals need to make more upgrades to equipment and facilities in order to meet the needs of these newer vessels. Of course, this is a significant but absolutely essential investment, as terminals must do everything they can to fulfill customers’ requirements. Mr. Sharma says, “LCIT is already in the process of procuring new quay cranes and RTGs so that we are in the best position to serve our customers’ newer, larger vessels at B3 and C5. LCIT sees the value in making this investment because we’ve had nearly 20 years of success at Laem Chabang Port, and we know that Thailand’s logistics industry holds a lot of future potential.”
One concern which affects the terminals as well as every infrastructure operator in Thailand is that operating costs are continually changing, but the terminal tariff is fixed and has remained unchanged since its inception in 1991. “The container terminal industry is one of Thailand’s most important, and by working together we can take it to the next level of success. Through collaboration with our fellow terminals as an active member of TICTA (Thai International Cargo and Container Terminals Association), and with our public sector counterparts keeping policies updated in line with market conditions, we can continue to make developments that move the industry forward.”