Port selection based on attraction and competition

a transport chain approach

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A port is selected by its port users based on their knowledge of the competition between the ports and most of all the attractive force between the port user and the ports. Addressing this port attraction is of crucial importance when wanting to influence the port selection process of the port user. This thesis aims to build a model that provides the Port of Rotterdam with intelligence of the underlying sensitivity of this port selection process that can be used to specify region specific strategies. The model is build for the case of the Port of Rotterdam who wishes to expand their current market shares in Central and Eastern Europe. Five regions are specified (Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Southern Germany) for which a set of competitive routes are identified. Due to the far location of this hinterland the entire transport chains need to be studied in order to estimate the competitiveness in these regions. The model developed in this thesis aims to address the concept of attractiveness by including the preferences of the port users who are responsible for the selection and integration of ports in its routes. In order to build a model that is suitable for this specific problem situation several a knowledge base is set in the conceptual development phase. The literature review sets a theoretical framework on how the model fits in existing literature and a background study results in a set of guidelines how to develop this model for this specific case. This study contributes to the existing literature by 1) estimating the competitiveness over the entire transport chain for specific regions, and 2) developing a methodology and measurement tool for port selection that addresses the importance of both port competition and port attractiveness. Understanding this decision-making process opens new strategic windows for the Port of Rotterdam to target expansion strategies more precisely on where the most added value is achieved. A few steps are followed in order to produce the model. First the context is defined by specifying a set of stakeholders – in this case the main decision makers when it comes to route choice –, a set of criteria – defined over the entire transport chain – on which the set of alternative – in this case the competitive routes – can be compared. The data collection consists of three important elements, 1) collecting data for the quantitative criteria, 2) collecting data for the qualitative criteria, and 3) collecting data for estimation of the weights. The first is done by approaching chain actors to get real data for quantification of criteria and performing research, while the data of the second two elements is done through a survey among the three main decision makers (freight forwarders, shippers and carriers). The weighting of the criteria is done by applying the Best Worst Method. This method is chosen due to its ability to produce reliable results with a minimum amount of comparison data. These three data elements serve as input for the actual model developed to calculate the attractiveness per route. For each region a ranking is given based on this level of attractiveness. Before the actual strategies are specified first a sensitivity analysis is performed on the weights and a few possible future scenarios are tested. These future scenarios are developed such that they link back to the motivation of the port of Rotterdam to conduct this study. For each region a strategy is defined where the tactics for improvements are targeted such that after implementation Rotterdam becomes the most attractive for these regions. Based on the degree of complexity the regions are set in a sequence that is recommended for the implementation. The thesis concludes with a discussion on how the model performs relating to existing literature and to what extend it fits in the current literature. The recommendations involve suggestions for the Port of Rotterdam for further research