The Impact of the Panama Canal Expansion on US Ports.

Written by Guest Blogger:  Guy Barlow, Director, Industry Strategy, Oracle Primavera

It’s appropriate that a notable leap day event – after all, this is a leap year – was in 1904.  A committee was formed by Theodore Roosevelt to analyze the Panama Canal project in the hopes of speeding it up.  Fast forward 108 years and a massive expansion of the canal is underway, with political and business members calling for a speeding up of the various port projects associated with the expansion. 

The expansion will create demand along the US Eastern Seaboard for ports able to handle post-Panamax vessels; Ports from Miami to New York are considering renovations including dredging, blasting, and bridge-raising. With over $8.5 billion for projects related to the expansion of the Canal, the top U.S. ports have to ensure their various programs are delivered on time and on budget.  Otherwise, competing ports, whether in the U.S. or outside, are likely to siphon off some of the increased shipping volume.

So what are some of the critical questions port executive should be asking themselves?  Here are four that come to mind…

  1. What can I do to minimize the impact of change on the process?  This is very important since change is one of the key drivers for cost overruns. 
  2. How do I ensure the predictability of costs?  Change may be the cost driver but how do I get a handle on the costs in the first place?  Especially on a multi-year project.
  3. As I work with contractors can I clearly define roles and contract expectations?  With limited resources I need to know who will be doing what – and when.  Duplications aren’t acceptable or affordable.
  4. Can I build a long-term partnership with contractors?  My facility is going to be around a long time. 

This isn’t a comprehensive list but as a director or senior level port executive I’d want to be very mindful of these.  After all, the last thing I’d want is a committee being formed to investigate my lagging projects…

If you are interested in this subject matter, please join me for an insightful online discussion on March 21st. Register now at http://bit.ly/portswebcast to save your seat.

Disclaimer: the Panama Canal Expansion is managed using Oracle’s Primavera software

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