Ports and shipping lines could save USD2 billion per year
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.