The Port Authority of the Cayman Islands announced extensive plans Friday to renovate and more than triple the storage capacity of its Berkley Bush Cargo Distribution Centre at Airport Industrial Park.
Plans approved by the PACI board will allow the center to accommodate 90-foot-tall towers of cargo, compared to its current 40-foot stacks, facilitated by four new cranes to be imported over three years.
Other planned additions include a six-lane container truck gate, X-ray container scanners at the gate, expansion of the existing warehouse, new administrative offices, an additional 100 electrical plugs for refrigerated containers and new container handling equipment.
“This is going to change the way we do business at the distribution center. The plan will call for a new entrance gate, expansion of our existing warehouse and it will be totally computerized. Customers will be able to actually book when they want a container in advance,” Mr. Reid said.
At the entrance gate, cameras will be able to capture the trucks’ license plates and container numbers, enabling vehicles to pass through without stopping. Information will be electronically relayed to the yard management system.
The fully automated Boxhunter cranes from Finland’s Konecranes are expected to be the first of their kind in the Caribbean, Mr. Reid added.
The first shipment of crane parts is scheduled to arrive in February 2018. The machines will be transported in 36 containers and assembled in Cayman by Konecranes staff. The port anticipated 25 people will be needed for assembly over 30 days.
“These machines are going to change the landscape of the industrial park. They tower nine stories high, so you will be able to see them from quite a distance,” Mr. Reid said.
The decision to purchase the cranes came after attempts to acquire property to expand the facility proved economically unfeasible. Instead, the port is following the trend of locations like Port of Miami, and building up to improve efficiencies, Mr. Reid said.
“We wouldn’t be purchasing any more property. So we’ll be using existing land that we have, realizing the efficiencies of the property,” Mr. Reid said.
“What we learned, especially from the Port of Miami, is that they are currently facing the same issue that we have. They are running out of land. So they are also changing their equipment.”
Upcoming changes to international maritime regulations will obligate ports to accommodate larger vessels, Mr. Reid explained. After September, the International Maritime Organization will require cargo ships to have on-board treatment systems for ballast water discharged in ports of call. The change will mean larger ships and shipments.
“It’s not feasible to retrofit those old vessels, so most of the companies now are changing to larger vessels. So with the increase in vessel size and the population growth in Cayman and the increase of the tourism product, we need to be able to be efficient in order to deliver the cargo to our consumers on a timely basis,” Mr. Reid said.
The Port Authority declined to release the budget for the project until concessionary bidding finalizes to design, build, finance and maintain the facility. Government is expected to vet bidders next month.
The distribution center was first completed in 1992 for $3.5 million. The facility was then expanded in 1997.
APEC Consulting Engineers has been contracted to produce the new master plan and Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc. are consultants on the project.