What would our life look like without container ships? People rarely think about how their food, furniture or detergents have reached their homes. Thanks to the constant improvements in the field of transportation, moving goods from and to all over the world takes only a couple of weeks and can be surprisingly cheap.
Benefits of liner shipping
Liner shipping is undisputedly the most efficient way to transport goods. The average container ship can transport over 200,000 containers of cargo for a year and has the capacity to accommodate the goods of several large warehouses (up to 8,000 containers of finished goods and products) on one voyage.
In transport, 1 TEU stands for the space occupied by a 20ft container; hence a 40ft container is 2 TEU. This measurement gives us the opportunity to compare the efficiency of the different ways of transportation. For example, in order to fit all the containers from an 11,000 TEU ship, one would need a 77 km long train composition. But, their large carrying capacity is not the only advantage of the container ships. They deliver large loads very quickly – a container from Shanghai can be delivered in Rotterdam, for only 28-35 days. Last but not least – the costs are lower because of the large number of goods being transported during one journey.
The possibilities that this kind of transportation gives are constantly growing. The largest container ship of our time was built recently, in May 2017. OOCL Hong Kong, constructed by Samsung Heavy Industries, is the third container ship to surpass the 20,000 TEU threshold. With its capacity of 21,413 TEUs and length of 400 m, it serves the route from Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Yantian, Singapore, via Suez Canal, to Felixstowe, Rotterdam, Gdansk, Wilhelmshaven, Felixstowe, via Suez Canal, to Singapore, Yantian and Shanghai in a 77-day round trip.
But how is it possible to control all the processes related to such a massive vehicle? Large container ships can be operated by teams of only a dozen people thanks to the advanced computer systems which enable precise navigation, routing, transport, loading and unloading of thousands of containers within a single journey.
Among these computer systems is the cargo handling system which has a crucial impact on the earning capability and environmental footprint of a container ship. It guarantees the efficient use of space and this equals efficient use of energy.
Early recognition of the cargo profile and incorporating its requirements into the system planning ensures that a container ship’s utilisation rate and earning capability can be maximised and its environmental impact minimised.
This is an important aspect of the shipping industry as data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that 15 of the world’s biggest ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world.
It is clear that the future will bring even stricter measures to protect the environment, which the transportation industry will have to comply with. But what else will the future bring?
The future of container shipping
When speaking about the future of container shipping, it is worth mentioning Wärtsilä – a company which ran an incredible experiment in August 2017. An engineer located in San Diego piloted a massive cargo ship thousands of miles away off the coast of Scotland using a joystick which was directly linked to that vessel via satellite. The unique technology made possible establishing precise remote control over the ship’s movement.
For some people relying on technology is a better idea than leaving all the power in human hands. But won’t there be dozens of Flying Dutchmen floating in the oceans before a safe and errorless performance of the ships’ systems can be guaranteed?
Making shipping easier and more efficient is only part of the new era of globalization. Another example of an attempt to kindle a golden age of commerce that will benefit all is the New Silk Road. The ancient trade route between China and Europe during the days of the Roman Empire is now being resurrected. According to the Belt and Road Action Plan released in 2015, the project includes land routes (the “Belt”) and maritime routes (the “Road”). The main investment will come from China and the goal is to improve the trade relationships between Asia and Western Europe.
The Sirius Effect:
Our innovative spirit and long-term vision help us manage with the dynamics of the transportation industry. Whatever changes are yet to come, it is useful to have a reliable partner who is aware of them. With Sirius at your side, you can be certain that whenever there is a possibility of cutting the costs and the negative environmental impact, it will be done.
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