amphibious

Amphibious AG600 prepares for its maiden flight

Manufactured by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and following on from a successful run of ground evaluations, the AG600 is expected to take off from land for the first time this month. With a maximum take off weight of 53.5 tonnes, the amphibious plane is similar in size to a boeing 737.

It measures 36.9 metres in length and has a wingspan of 38.8 metres and AVIC have reportedly ordered 17 of them so far. Although marketed primarily as a firefighting aircraft for its ability to take off and land on water, it will also be used for military cargo, passenger transport and search and rescue operations. It will have the ability to carry up to 50 passengers and could also be used for a host of military operations including long-range patrols, anti-submarine warfare tasks, and mine-laying missions.

The land operation will take place before a flight on water during the later half of 2017.

shipping alliance

The new shipping alliances are in place. How are they impacting?

The changes in shipping alliances recently put in place have have already had a big impact on European ports. Coming into effect on April 1st, shippers have experienced significant changes in their carriers’ service networks. On the trans-Pacific trade alone, the alliances will offer 18% fewer direct routes and 33% of the routes will have transit times that are shorter or longer by three or more days compared to the member carriers’ alliance offerings before April.

Rotterdam is feeling the change the most. According to CargoSmart, the Hong Kong based shipment services provider, Rotterdams services from the alliances have fallen by 3 to 23, but the number of vessels passing through and being deployed has increased by 30.  Southampton, Antwerp and Hamburg have also seen the number of deployed vessels increase by 18, 16 and 13 respectively.

Felixstowe have seen a decrease in services through the port by 21, and Bremerhaven by 17.  Bremerhaven has also seen the average vessel capacity rocket by 1000 ten, and Southampton and Le Have have both seen capacity jump by 1200 teu.

Hamburg Port Authority chief executive Axel Mattern, speaking to Container Shipping & Trade said that berth availability and hinterland connections are “key factors” when it comes to dealing with the new alliances and their services. “The challenges with the big ships are on the navigational side. You need to be able to cope with the volumes which are being churned out from all of these big ships. Facilities need to handle all these volumes in a very limited time frame. They are not designed for the storage of containers. They are designed for perfect handling. That is the challenge. You need the capability to enable the volumes to flow.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, American farmers are concerned that the restructuring will make it far harder for them to deliver US commodities abroad. Port calls have been falling since before the new alliances formed, though. Sailings to U.S. ports from Asia recently were running at a weekly rate of 57, down from 65 four years ago, according to Alphaliner, which tracks such activity. However, with larger vessels coming into use, overall capacity has risen 4% to the U.S. West Coast and 22% to the East Coast in that same period, the data show.

With the alliances only having been in place for less than 3 months, the full impact is yet to be seen. Vessels into ports and numbers of containers are bound to fluctuate whilst the alliances find their feet, but with less capacity and demand always changing, it will be interesting to see how the changes affect the ports long term.

uber

Uber branching out!

In mid May, Uber announced the Uber Freight App, which connects trucking companies and drivers with shippers. In similarity to its ride sharing app, users will be able to view near by drivers and book loads, sending a rate confirmation within seconds. 

However, it faces stiff competition from already established apps in the freight industry.  Convoy offers similar services to Uber, and can bid on rates as opposed to offering flat rates, and Go99, based in Vancouver, has a similar model. Amazon is also reportedly working on a matching app at present.

Uber is promising to pay truckers within 7 days, much less than the standard 30 days companies normally need to wait. With no haggling with brokers, back and forth negotiations or hassles, Uber are marketing themselves as the middle man but not the forwarder.  According to their website, they fundamentally believe that by focusing on drivers’ pain points we can solve the industry’s biggest challenges. Happy drivers means happy shippers, and ultimately everyone benefits, including the end consumers of the goods. We’ve built a team of industry experts, leading technologists, and, of course, truck drivers to help us push the industry forward and level the playing field for trucking companies.

At the moment Uber are just rolling this out in America, and it will take a long time, if ever, for it to become something that the UK uses.  Taking the personal touch away from freight delivery isn’t necessarily a good thing, and being able to have someone manage your delivery is a part of the process. It remains to be seen whether they can make this as successful as their other ventures, and break into an industry that is already very well established.

Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel unveil 3rd generation freight shuttles

Eurotunnel brought 3 new freight shuttle carriers for lorries into service at the end of April. They will provide 20% more capacity and mean that Eurotunnel can offer up to 8 departures an hour at peak times instead of the current 6.

With a cost of 40 million euros, this could be seen as a strong investment in the future. The order is supported by a €30 million programme of investments in the expansion of the terminals in Folkestone and Coquelles which will ensure the fluidity of traffic across the Eurotunnel site.

Each carrier is 800m long with 32 flat carrier wagons, three loading wagons and a coach for the lorry drivers. The hope is that they are more aerodynamic, and much lighter than the previous generations.

Demand for Eurotunnel’s Le Shuttle freight service between France and the UK is expected to grow as a result of many companies attempting to reduce their carbon footprint. Eurotunnel aim to be transporting two million trucks a year by 2020.

Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Groupe Eurotunnel SE, said:”With the entry into service of three new freight shuttles, for the first time since January 1999 Eurotunnel starts a new phase of its development by offering, on top of the speed of crossing, an unrivalled frequency of departure.”

The shuttles went through a rigorous final testing phase in February, consisting of 80 loaded and uninterrupted crossings through the tunnel. A shuttle was loaded with 32 trucks, each filled up with water containers, so that each weighed between 36 and 39 tonnes, to create a realistic test environment.

Michel Boudoussier, Chief Operating Officer – Concession of Groupe Eurotunnel stated: “As the world leader in the rolling motorway industry, Eurotunnel has been able to draw upon its 20 years of experience in the design of these 3rd generation Shuttles. The consultation that we led confirmed that we are at the leading edge of railway development”.