University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Correlational research and data envelopment analysis on Australia and the world’s top one hundred container ports

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 15:33 authored by Elphick, B, Peter FanamPeter Fanam

This paper aims to analyse port performance and to evaluate how Australian ports fare with their international compatriots and provide recommendations to Australia’s port decision-makers in how container port performance can be improved and where best to allocate capital for port development. The World Bank and IHS Markit developed The Container Port Performance Index 2020 using ‘ships time spent in port’ as the basis for performance measurement. Most Australian container ports ranked in the bottom quartile amongst the three hundred and fifty-one ports in the index.

This paper used the Spearman rank correlation coefficient to identify whether quayside gantry cranes, terminal size or quay length were more highly correlated with container throughput. The paper found that quayside gantry cranes had a strong correlation with container throughput and terminal area and quay length were only moderately correlated. The results were also highly statistically significant. Secondly, data envelopment analysis (DEA) was performed on all one hundred ports from the sample population plus three additional Australian ports to investigate if Australian ports were technically efficient. None, except for Adelaide were found to be technically efficient. However, when analysing the input slacks from the DEA analysis somewhat of a paradox was revealed. Most container ports had very little or zero quayside gantry cranes to minimise to become technically efficient. This could be because of the connection that quayside gantry cranes have with container throughput.

Therefore, this paper highlights two important factors for port decision-makers; (1) quayside gantry cranes have a high correlation with container throughput and should be prioritised in port development plans above quay length and terminal area; (2) ports that attempt to reduce quayside gantry cranes to achieve technical efficiency may do so at the expense of container throughput and may become less technically efficient.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 2022 Australian Maritime Logistics Research Network (AMLRN) Symposium






Australian Maritime College



Place of publication


Event title

Australian Maritime Logistics Research Network (AMLRN) Symposium

Event Venue


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Port infrastructure and management

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager