Shipping and Terminal Industry Trend Ⅰ
1. Containership size growth and cascading
Probably the most significant trend affecting the global container port industry is the extraordinary increase in containership sizes. Over the last 15 years or so, there has been a repeated process in the liner shipping industry: Maersk Line breaks ranks and orders vessels for the Asia- Europe route that are significantly larger than the norm, and three to five years later, pretty much every other carrier is forced to follow suit in the endless scramble for economies of scale. It started with the 7,400 TEU Regina Maersk and the 8,200 TEU Sovereign Maersk class in the mid-1990s. Then the industry was shocked by the 15,500 TEU Emma Maersk class in the mid-2000s, and in 2013 the 18,000 TEU Maersk Triple-E class is due to come into service. It was really therefore just a question of time before it became clear which line would be the first to do the same thing and exhibit once again the herd mentality of liner shipping. The five 18,400 TEU vessels ordered by China Shipping for delivery in the second half of 2014 will be joined by five comparable vessels from alliance partner UASC. Other carriers will probably have to do something similar in due course, although the timescale is not clear.
2. Size of Ports and Terminals
Growth of containership size leads to size growth of ports and terminals. The most expensive implications for ports of larger ships are vessel draft and vessel length. Dredging of berths and channels and pouring concrete for quay walls come at a high cost, not to mention planning and environmental hurdles. Wider vessel beams are easier to deal with. Gantry cranes with longer outreaches do not come cheap, but they are generally a lot easier to put in place than new berths or deeper water. Even ports like Hamburg and Antwerp with significant draft and tidal restrictions due to long river passages are still very much in the big-ship game. Hamburg has seen calls by the 16,000 TEU CMA CGM Marco Polo class, for example. Antwerp has seen the 15,500 TEU Maersk E-class vessels and regularly hosts the 14,000 TEU MSC vessels. This is certainly not as straightforward and flexible as calling at Rotterdam’s almost unrestricted Maasvlakte, but certainly not ‘sized out’ of the game either.
3. Cranes are also getting bigger
The 18,000 TEU ships are getting wider though, so crane outreach is becoming more critical. The Triple-E vessels are 23 boxes wide, whereas the Maersk E-class is 22 wide and the CMA CGM Marco Polo class is 21 boxes wide. However, most of the major ports on the Asia-Europe route, including wayports in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, have already deployed cranes able to cope, or are taking steps to do so. Even in the worst case, if a terminal only has outreach for 20 boxes, ships can be stowed to cope with this if necessary, which makes container stowage system very important. But crane height is also a significant consideration, along with outreach, and some key ports are currently investing in raising the height of some of their existing cranes.
4. Needs for higher terminal productivity
To attract large ships as above, secure of terminal productivity is top priority. If productivity is not high enough, large vessels to call at the terminal takes so much time and resources to process work that the benefit of a large ship operations offset or rather worse. As the terminals grow larger, the quantity of goods and equipment that must be managed surge and operational complexity rises exponentially. There is a great possibility that productivity dip down sharply if manage the whole terminal by the existing system or the manpower. Terminal The expansion of the terminal facilities and terminals for the large vessels, therefore, eventually will have an interest in the terminal automation system more and more.