testata inforMARE
29 November 2022 - Year XXVI
Independent journal on economy and transport policy
16:04 GMT+1
FORUM of Shipping
and Logistics

The Terminal Operations Conference & Exhibition
TOC 99

1-3 June 1999


General Manager



Beyond the basic investment's determination by a shipping company before and while operating any service line, the main issue is the attributes of the line in the geographical aspects.

Said geographical coverage, is a direct result of the investment - namely: number of vessels, their size, speed and frequency of calls - all those attributes which will compose the quality of the said service.

If assuming that the frequency of call is a weekly one (expected norm by most of markets) and assuming also that vessel's size and speed were determined as well (investment limits), it is clear the rotation of that line and number of ports of call is a known and determined factor.

Investment extent, resulting in vessel's size, limitations, and the schedule constraints are certainly different between each carrier - thus affording the vast diversities of shipping services.

The clear tenet that guides all carriers as service providers, is the geographical coverage, namely widest spatial extension to service optimized size.

This is the base for the complicated and branched feeder network that completes the line's service spreading.

The basic assumption that the main liners skeleton is quite a rigid one (concerning vessels' limitation, endless efforts to minimize costs and schedule constraints), leads to the clear conclusion - that a line flexibility is depending on its feeder services.

Carrier's ability to vary the said line, beyond significant strategic changes, is by adding feeder services.

Feeding services allowing carriers to penetrate into specific markets considering also that further follow up will inquire and maybe justify future call by the main liner in case of market development.

The integration of Zim's lines and the mutual feeding and lines' activity in Zim's system will be introduced by focusing on Zim's activity in the Mediterranean. Ideas about the future trends in the Mediterranean port activity, will also be discussed.


Zim is today one of the world's main container carriers.

The idea behind Zim's organization and its activity is the continuing improving of its position as an integrated international transportation system.

According this concept, Zim laid out a global network based on herringbone of two east/west bound pendulum services.

The ZCS (Zim Container Service) and AMD (Asia Med), services which initiate their routes in the Mediterranean east and west bound, meeting in the far east, swing and complete their voyages again in the Mediterranean.

This concept was described by the "Containerization International" as one of the most significant corner stones and breakthroughs in the containerization development through the last 40 years.

In certain hub points, along the main east/west services, south/north services are joining the main strings, completing Zim's worldwide network.

The idea behind this intricate structure is minimizing risks and costs, while allowing penetration to world wide niche markets.

Zim's main objective is a constant diligence in improving its position as a leading global transportation company.

This objective is supported among others by continuous efforts to improve the ability of responding to market demands - objective that is one of the major factors in Zim success.

Zim is looking forward to entering new markets that complement its existing routes' structure.

Zim believes that the diversification of its markets stabilize its presence in major trade areas while minimizing risks.

Objectives mentioned, as well as others, are being achieved by Zim's strategy, which is guided under the following points:

  1. Increasing and improving geographical coverage of its route network including main lines and diversity of feeding services.
  2. Upgrading Zim's services wherever practicable to weekly combined services mutually connecting each other.
  3. Operating a self-owned core fleet. This will assure flexible and reliable operations in the unstable and fluctuating contemporary global shipping market.
  4. Continuous evaluation of global trades and Zim's presence and reaction to changes mainly concerning service level, tonnage involved and all needs for constant rationalization of routes network.
  5. Zim is constangly seeking for a strategic partnership as well as expanding its co-operations with other shipping companies.
    Zim is ready to consider entering new joint ventures with other groups.
  6. Ever lasting improving efforts towards its clientele by offering a more personalized and competitive services.
    Zim is working under the Iso 9000 certification, constantly monitoring its level of service and trying to improve it.

Beyond the global approach and regarding the Mediterranean, Zim is considering the Med as a cornerstone for its European services and the junction point for most of its services.

Israeli ports the homeports for Zim's vessels, are located in the eastern Med, and creating the said junction point.

Zim's activity in general, is about 50% of the container activity in Israel.

Zim - as a shipping company, was born in the Mediterranean. From the Mediterranean, Zim emerged and developed its present reputation as a dynamic world-spanning container shipping service operating between Israel, its homeport, east and west bound until the Far East and back.


A port as a HUB in its known developed form of today, is a relatively new phenomenon in the shipping market. A direct result of economical and operational dynamics and processes in the container trade development over the last 40 years.

The augmentation in ships' sizes, the essential requirement to rationalize the voyages by shortening berthing time and skipping ports (not fitting lines frame of time and production expectations), the vast changes in the operational, logistic and economical aspects of the port industry, all together created and cherished the transshipment phenomenon as known today.

The creation and development of hub centers depend on the demand and the nature of their surrounding markets, and according to carriers' demands in their endless efforts to upgrade and improve their services as offered to their clientele.

Such changes must be accompanied by improving their performances in the economical and operational aspects.

In general, HUB port can be determined by integration of some phenomena.

Among them are:

  1. The size and the ratio of transshipment activity to local activity.
  2. Activity development in the said port, compared to the local market developments.
  3. Type and size of vessels calling the said port, compared to local market's needs.

The requirements from a certain port to become a HUB are diverse and quite complicated.

The diversity of parameters can be divided into the economical and the operational aspects.

The economical aspect:

  1. Existence of a basic local market that will contribute to the call costs.
  2. Attractive tariffs and costs that will justify and enable the future expected developing of activity.
  3. Ports' capability to further future growth - regional market potential, economical and spatial potential for further expansion of the port and its logistic systems.

In general - all attributes which will assure the future stabilization of the port and services.

The operational aspect:

The spatial location of the port - which will minimize any possible deviation from main sailing route, obviously resulting from the essential need to shorten voyage and avoiding any unnecessary costs.

The proximity of hinterland market by unalloyed geographical and logistical meanings. There is the essential need for branched and reliable logistic systems - maritime and terrestrial as well, to assure high level service to carriers' clientele - and on the other hand, minimizing costs.

Industrial peace which will assure fluent and reliable port operatins.

High quality and productive operations which fit the modern vessels nature. Production by rate of operations, efficiency of cargo flow all year long - which will be generated by infrastructure extent and appropriate berth utilization percentage to avoid any queuing and respected delays.



Zim's 2 main world embracing services, ZCS and AMD are converging, initiating and completing their voyage in the Mediterranean.

The multi directional convergence point in the east Mediterranean is the port of Haifa.

AMD service, after calling Israel, is performing its Mediterranean loop that consists of Egypt, Greece and the Adriatic Sea ports.

This loop provides on top of AMD's direct calls to those ports, a reliable and high quality service to the Israeli market with its unique demands and limitations. In addition, as part of its aims, the loop provides feeding services to the ZCS and other lines that are converged at Haifa.

ZCS service completes its voyages in Haifa, connecting and feeding east Mediterranean ports with the west Mediterranean range.

From Haifa, after initiating its voyage, ZCS vessels call Livorno, ZCS main port of call in Italy, and then proceed to Barcelona, the Zim's west Mediterranean hub center.


The secondary lines in the Mediterranean, like the main strings, operate under two concepts:

  1. Serving the Israeli trade with its unique imitations and demands.
  2. Presenting feeding services to the main lines in the Mediterranean.

In the frame of those services, Zim is also active in the inter-med trades such as the West Mediterranean loop, connecting Italian ports with Spain, France and Portugal with a weekly, fix day service.

Those services, as well as the global services in the Mediterranean, are exchanging between themselves the role of feeder and main liner.

These, in order to offer the best and highest level of service to most of Mediterranean destinations and origins.


Efficiency and rationalization are the keywords in creating the intricate branched structure of Zim's network in the Mediterranean.

In this structure, all lines feed each other and assure high level of service to the Israeli and international clientele.


Zim, as in the past, is continuing in its endless efforts to diversify and improve its services by calling and covering most of Mediterranean markets on a weekly basis. The never-ending search for optimizing services in favor of Zim's clientele, is the main guideline in the Mediterranean activity. The Mediterranean will continue to be Zim's corner stone for its national and international trades due to the clear recognition of the Mediterranean basic economical significance also in the global aspects.

Future trends as will be mentioned, are carefully studied and monitored for proper reaction to any market demands.


There is a diversity of theories and articles regarding future trends in the spatial distribution and roles of the Mediterranean ports.

The growth of vessels capacity, schedule rigidity, the economical effects of each delay and deviation will most probably continue to dictate hubs' concentration along the direct Suez - Gibraltar axis.

The pressure, quantities and character of the Europe-Asia market, probably, will also continue to dictate the need for north Europe direct call - thus continuing to serve the Mediterranean via few elected hubs.

The influence of Mediterranean ports owing to any change in the north European ports', congestion and/or saturation, is quite clear.

However, Europe's logistic constraints are well known for their influence on any situation.

Hub centers along the Mediterranean Sea, known or anonymous, will concentrate mainly on transshipment activity. Their ability to confront transshipment costs will inherent in their activity volumes and their ability to rationalize and improve production as well as offer carriers diversity of added values' services - mainly in the logistics aspects - marine and terrestrial as well.

Carrier's choiche of one hub center or another will depend also in the future, beyond the geographical aspects, on the logistics attractiveness as well as costs.

The issue, can not be clearly defined, few theories if any succeeded in predicting the establishment and the momentum of Gioia Tauro, Genoa's complex trade development and recent years levels, were almost unforeseen and many more.

There are some present clear processes in the Mediterranean.

Starting with ending conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean through accelerated developments of urban centers such as the Po valley in north Italy and ending with privatization waves and taking over of ports by global consortiums.

Long range wealthy development plans for ports such as Cagliari, Taranto and other East and West Mediterranean ports, are very significant for those ports as well as for adjacent ports which are trying to understand, predict and adapt new strategy for seen future.

North European ports' growth rate, and the inevitable future saturation of some terminals, will have their significant influence as well on Mediterranean ports and the formation of the future Mediterranean activity.

It is obvious that processes mentioned might cause considerable changes in the Med trades' patterns such as moving transshipment center of gravity further east of today's situation.

Some of today's well-known and established ports might fade in front of some new and presently anonymous ports that will benefit from their spatial position and future wealthy investment.

The known fluctuating due de-concentration processes in saturated ports will also be seen in the future and most probably will continue to characterize traditional Med ports' activity - mainly due to lack of expanding spaces.

The intermodal issue - an increasing problem in Europe, is another factor.

Known congested roads, old railways systems, safety and ecological aspects, and the vast investments required to face the problems, will undoubtedly contribute to a significant growth in sea transportation and ports activity in seen future.

Vast sizes of urban centers and their population needs - consuming and industrial aspects as well, will need to develop an appropriate logistic system to correspond their demands.


The nature and the activity of a port as a hub are resulting from the carriers' strategy.

However, it should be noted that the attractiveness of a hub, beyond its natural attributes, depends also on its operators' strategy.

As previously mentioned, some attributes which build the hub's attractiveness, can be determined, but a total model that will predict the future - is by far to be achieved.

In spite of the uncertainty, few possible trends in the Mediterranean can be observed.

As mentioned, Mediterranean ports feeding North Europe are hard to be excepted. As well as opposite theories.

The present situation of the European terrestrial logistic systems blocks and will block all initiatives unless completely revised.

Political processes - mainly in the Eastern - Med should be carefully monitored for possible changes in all the Mediterranean trade concept.

There is a diversity of future scenarios and hubs charts for the Mediterranean. Carriers also evaluate future changes for adequate spreading of their network.

However, in spite of any future changes, carriers will continue facing heavy pressures to reduce their costs. This can be achieved only by further rationalization of ports and logistic systems.

Secondary ports, which met feeders' activity, today serve feeders of main liner sizes that need top quality service to fit into the complicated schedules of the main liners.

Lost identity in some cases between the main liners and the feeders as shown in Zim's case, requires same terminal service levels for the feeder as well as the expensive main liner.

With today's tremendous fixed costs, queuing in front of terminals, strikes and any other operational bottlenecks should be completely eliminated in order to overcome both operators' and carriers' marginal profits in their vast investments.

All these arguments, should be taken into consideration by terminals when evaluating or arranging themselves for future developing or upgrading their services.

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