The port of Melbourne is investing AUS$400m ($411m) to expand its vehicle terminal at the West Webb Dock to handle annual capacity for 600,000 vehicles and add on-site, pre-delivery inspection (PDI) facilities.
It is the largest commitment to an automotive terminal in Australia, according to the minister for Ports, Dr Denis Napthine, and the development will bring overall investment in the port's expansion project, which includes the development of a new container terminal and upsizing of the Swanson Dock, to AUS$1.6m.
Development at the automotive terminal includes the construction of 920 metres of new wharves, more than 1,000 supporting piles and 24,000-square metres of concrete decking.
"Despite tough economic conditions, Australian-made cars, parts and engines continue to be exported around the world, with Toyota dispatching ships carrying Camrys and other models every week from the port of Melbourne," said Ted Bailieu MP, premier for the state of Victoria.
The addition of PDI activity at the terminal promises to speed up turnaround times and increase efficiency. Currently around 60% of all imported vehicles are trucked across the West Gate of the port to the suburbs for processing, with about a third returned a second time for delivery to eastern Victoria.
"By consolidating all PDI at the Webb Dock site and utilising the new terminal's direct access to the M1, this project will create efficiencies for the industry and encourage further investment from the private sector," said Dr Napthine.
The expansion of the automotive terminal at the Webb Dock will be entirely funded by the Port of Melbourne Corporation, with the port opening a tender process during the second half of 2012 to find an operator for the terminal and PDI sites.
"The upgrade of the state's automotive import/export facilities at the port of Melbourne means Victoria will remain a vital export gateway for one of the state's largest manufacturing sectors," added Dr Napthine.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, which calls at the port of Melbourne and has its largest equipment processing centre in Australia, the 105,000-square-metre Laverton facility, just 15km from the Melbourne port, said it welcomed the announcement of redevelopment at the West Webb Dock. WWL has delivered approximately 70,000 cars, trucks and buses, and over 500,000 cubic metres of agricultural, construction and break bulk equipment in the past 12 months, and is looking at possibilities to play an even greater role within the port.
"This decision allows certainty on the foreseeable future of ro-ro shipments into Melbourne that is a gateway to one of the largest markets in Australia," said WWL's Head of commercial in Oceania, Mark Guscott. "WWL has already worked with the port of Melbourne on key aspects of design and are encouraging the adoption of forward thinking environmental inclusions that leverages off concepts introduced through WWL's Castor Green Terminal design."
Guscott told Automotive Logistics News that the redevelopment would give Melbourne two viable terminal alternatives and should ensure that the needs of its customers were being met.
"On-dock PDI is certainly a strong and important inclusion for design and this will especially assist automotive importers to streamline their logistics chains and further reduce the carbon footprint of trucks hauling cars to off-dock PDI," he said.
"We see our role as creating a seamless logistics chain that reduces environmental impacts and supports our customers from factory to dealer," he added.