Container data

This project improves the accessibility of container data from Australia’s major container ports. Container movements through our ports are critical to our economy. Our trade performance impacts our productivity, living standards and quality of life. Currently our key container data is taken from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) Waterline report which bi-annually collects data from port operators, stevedores and port authorities.

The data covers the five major container ports in Australia, Port of Brisbane, Port Botany, Port of Melbourne, Port Adelaide (Outer Harbor) and Port of Fremantle (Inner Harbour). The Waterline data is currently used by government and industry to benchmark port performance, including for the ACCC Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report.

This project contributes to our understanding of many enduring questions for freight, including:

  • Where is freight being moved?
  • How is freight being moved?
  • What and where are the physical and regulatory bottlenecks and barriers for the efficient and safe movement of freight?
  • How well are Australia’s freight transport networks performing?
  • What and where are the opportunities for freight movements to be more efficient and safe?

The purpose

Currently, aggregated container throughput and performance data is collected and published at the state and national level. However, the frequency of collection, metrics and the sources vary.

The container supply chain is a patchwork of data systems, with service companies acting as ‘clearing houses’ on behalf of various sub-sectors such as shippers, stevedores, freight forwarders and shipping lines. Large companies additionally collect their own operational data. Smaller companies may operate largely offline, participating in the port data community only via the service providers.

The purpose of the container data project is to provide key container data to stakeholders which facilitates evidence-based policy, investment, planning and operational decision making. We aim to enable the analysis of container trends and patterns through the historical data.

Future improvements to the Insight

The Hub will work with data owners and custodians to collect, curate, harmonise, aggregate, and share a higher frequency and more granularity of container data. Greater frequency of data would provide an enhanced understanding of incidents and events effecting the ports such as bushfires and COVID-19. Examples of different entities with data include:

  • Individual state transport agencies (for example Transport for NSW)
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Australian Border Force (ABF)
  • Industry technology and market research companies (for example IBIS World)
  • Key peak body reports (for example Australian Logistics Council)
  • Current and new direct relationships with industry, including ports and stevedores

About the data

  • Dataset name: Waterline.
  • Data owner: Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) in the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
  • Geographical coverage: Port of Brisbane, Port Botany, Port of Melbourne, Port Adelaide (Outer Harbor) and Port of Fremantle (Inner Harbour).
  • Date range: January 2011 to June 2020.
  • Frequency of update: Bi-annually, data shown at quarterly resolution.
  • Description: The visualisations show key throughput and performance measures for the five major container ports. These include metrics for:
    • Throughput: total containers and twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled and shown by imports and exports, empty and full;
    • Ship rate: number of containers and TEUs moved on and off a ship per hour and the number of container ships calling at a port;
    • Landside: average container turnaround time for trucks, average number of containers and TEUs moved per truck; and number of containers and TEUs moved by road and rail.

The Waterline reports are published as PDFs with the raw data made available in Excel and CSV files.

  • Waterline data is provided every six months at quarterly resolution.
  • Waterline data has been collected since 1994, however, data fields have changed over time so only data from 2011 has been visualised.
  • The data is aggregated so individual container movements can’t be isolated. The data is presented for each port quarterly.
  • Container counts are aggregated from different points in the supply chain, sourced from different data providers with differing operational requirements. As such, aggregate container counts vary between indicators.
  • Road throughput refers to containers booked through the Vehicle Booking System (VBS) or Truck Appointment System (TAS). Containers not captured in this measure may include a) transhipped containers, b) containers transported outside of VBS/TAS, including bulk/stack runs and c) containers shipped other than through the dedicated container terminals, such as through multi-user facilities.