Ports and ship­ping lines could save USD2 bil­lion per year

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - PRODUCT WATCH -

A new con­tainer han­dling sys­tem, aimed at eas­ing the in­creas­ing prob­lem of port con­ges­tion, was launched at a tech­ni­cal demon­stra­tion in Shang­hai at the end of November.

Des­ig­nated “BLOK-BEAM”, the sys­tem is de­scribed as rev­o­lu­tion­ary and en­ables six con­tain­ers to be lif ted and trans­ported as one sin­gle block – largely us­ing ex­ist­ing port in­fra­struc­ture.

Managing Di­rec­tor of BLOKBEAM Ltd, John Evans, said now that ships are able to de­liver around 20,000 20ft con­tain­ers on one ves­sel – and the cranes to ser­vice them can lif t up to 100 tonnes at a time – it is the ports which, in spite of their im­proved ef­fi­ciency, have be­come the fo­cus of at­ten­tion in ship-to-shore move­ment.

Evans noted that ports han­dle over 500 mil­lion con­tain­ers an­nu­ally, of which as many as 25 per­cent are empty. With con­tainer ter­mi­nals charg­ing up to USD300 per lif t, the po­ten­tial sav­ings to the in­dus­try are mas­sive.

“We es­ti­mate that if only onethird of empty moves of con­tain­ers are han­dled by BLOK-BEAM, the in­dus­try would save over USD2 bil­lion per year – be­fore even con­sid­er­ing the vast ex­pense of idle time, fuel sav­ings, gen­eral ef­fi­ciency, losses at sea and safety.”

Safety is in­deed a big is­sue at sea, on deck, and on the quay­side. In­di­vid­ual con­tain­ers can be linked for lif ting as a tan­dem ver­ti­cal lif t. But being so high, they risk being un­sta­ble and can top­ple over on quay­side or deck. At the re­cent ICHCA Ship- Port In­ter­face Sem­i­nar in Lon­don, one pre­sen­ta­tion in­di­cated that even worse can hap­pen at sea – where the stacks can go up to 10 high and thou­sands of con­tain­ers are lost over­board or dam­aged each year.

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