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digital age

Can container shipping reinvent for the digital age?

In 1967, the British Transport Docks Board (BTDB) commissioned McKinsey & Company to assess the impact of a recent development from the United States: container boxes. The first purpose built ships for them were being launched, and a few US lines were carrying these novelties on their regular service. 

McKinsey & Company predicted:

Containerised cargo is effectively becoming homogenous, like other bulk cargoes, and is subject to the same economies of scale. Economics of scale will result in this concentrated cargo being handled by a small number of large organisations. Efficient use of expensive containers will require extensive route networks under unified control to allow load balancing.”

Now that standardised containers have been introduced in the shipping industry, the rush to ‘get on the bandwagon’ will probably lead to substantial overexpansion.

If container ships follow the tanker trend, ships of more than 10,000-container capacity could be available.

Feeder services will tend to replace direct calls when the large container ships come into service.

Rotterdam is an example of a European port which is in a good position to fill a major transoceanic role.

The role of British ports may tend to become that of feeders to the Continent…. Proximity of British East Coast ports to Europe will dictate their use.

In their October 2017 report they posed the question: In 1967, containers were disrupting the shipping business, so the players had to rethink everything. Now it’s digital, big data, and the Internet of Things. Is it time to rethink everything again? 

In 1956, the first ship to transport containers, named the Ideal X, carried only 58 of them. Since then, container-ship capacity has grown 370-fold: today’s largest vessels can hold more than 20,000 TEUs. Larger vessels provide greater cost efficiencies in fuel and crews, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions per container, and enable hub-and-spoke network strategies. Moreover, as operators collaborate in alliances, putting a single large vessel instead of two small ones on a given route has its advantages.

So, how much longer will this trend toward growth in capacity continue? In the long term, three factors could limit it.

The first is that returns to scale decline with increasing size, so a move from 20,000 to 40,000 TEUs wouldn’t reduce unit costs as much as a move from 10,000 to 20,000 TEUs.

Second, the narrowness and shallowness of some of the world’s waterways impose physical constraints: for example, the Strait of Malacca (between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra) has a minimum depth of 25 meters, the most modern channels of the Suez Canal a depth of 24 meters. The latest designs for vessels that carry 24,000 TEUs have a depth of 16 meters, which leaves scope for further growth in capacity.

Third, over the past decade, the blitz for bigger vessels has strained terminal and port operators, forcing them to invest in new cranes, dredging equipment, reinforced quay walls, and extended berths. Unloading containers from bigger ships takes longer because cranes must reach farther across vessels, thus extending berth occupancy and reducing productivity.

On balance, we do not view 20,000 TEUs as the natural end point for container ships—50,000-TEU ones are not unthinkable in the next half-century. However, progress will probably be much slower than it was in the past decade: overcapacity means that new ordering will be slower over the next five to ten years. Lower slot costs materialise only when demand fills up larger ships, which hasn’t happened recently. But if demand catches up with supply, as it may well do in the early 2020s, the logic of scale will once again drive orders for bigger and bigger ships. Nonetheless, since 40 percent of all shipyard capacity is unutilised, and it’s not conceivable that governments will allow shipyard bankruptcies on a large scale, they could find a way to prompt some level of new ordering.

The size of boxes could also increase. From the original six-foot-long Conex box the US military used in the 1950s, they have grown to 20 and now 40 feet and above. The limitation on box size is compatibility with road, rail, and other modes of transport. On US and Chinese roads, the maximum box length is 53 feet, so containers of this size are common for US domestic trade. As road networks improve and trucking becomes autonomous on major routes, we may well see containers 60 or more feet long, as well as wider and taller containers.

Wholly automated terminal and inland operations, with self-driving trucks (and perhaps even self- driving containers or “hyperloops”) transporting containers to inland distribution centres, will probably become the norm in the next couple of decades. Self-loading trucks, arriving just in time to pick up the next container without waiting or moving around unproductively at terminals, would improve the interface between ports and inland transport. Imagine a terminal with no stacks in the yard; instead, customs would pre-clear boxes digitally, and autonomous trucks would take them straight from ships and out to customers.

Advances in the use of data and analytics will bring further step changes in productivity. Shipping companies could heed the example of today’s state- of-the-art aircraft, which generate up to a terabyte of data per flight. Coupled with the introduction of more sensors, the better usage of the data that ships and containers generate would allow enhancements such as optimising voyages in real time (by taking into account weather, currents, traffic, and other external factors), smarter stowage and terminal operations, and predictive maintenance. Data could also improve the coordination of arrivals at port—a major benefit, since 48 per- cent of container ships arrive more than 12 hours behind schedule, thus wasting the carriers’ fuel and underutilising the terminal operators’ labor and quay space.

Data can create additional value for customers too. Full transparency on shipments, from one end of the value chain to the other, would be an enormous boon to carriers, forwarders, and shippers alike, giving them access to real-time information and enabling them to predict a container’s availability, arrival times, and so forth. Some ports (such as Antwerp, Hamburg, and Singapore) are already starting to share information in real time across data ecosystems, which could eventually extend throughout the whole industry. That would create a truly integrated end-to-end flow of containers and therefore make the industry more productive by reducing handovers, waiting times, and unnecessary handling.

A data-enabled shipping industry could also support its customers’ supply chains in important ways— but that will require a truly new order of performance and efficiency. The real-time visibility of all container movements, reliable forecasts, and integrated flow management will pave the way for flexible, dynamic supply chains that all but eliminate waiting times and inefficiencies. This achievement will be especially beneficial for industries (such as automotive) that have increasingly complex supply chains or for those with special needs (suchas cold chains). It will also allow smart logistics providers to differentiate themselves and earn premiums. But these opportunities won’t appeal to all customers; other sectors will demand only basic logistics services at the lowest possible cost.

By 2067, we believe shipping will have some or all of these characteristics: 

Autonomous 50,000-TEU ships will plow the seas—perhaps alongside modular, dronelike floating containers—in a world where the volume of container trade is anything from two to five times greater than it is today.

Short-haul intraregional traffic will increase as manufacturing footprints disperse more widely because of converging global incomes and the increasing use of automation and robotics. Container flows within the Far East will continue to be huge, and the secondmost significant trade lane may link that region to Africa, with a stopover in South Asia.

After multiple value-destroying cycles of overcapacity and consolidation, three or four major container-shipping companies might emerge. These businesses could be either digitally enabled independents with a strong customer orientation and innovative commercial practices or small subsidiaries of tech giants seamlessly blending the digital and physical realms. Freight forwarding as a stand- alone business will be virtually extinct, since digital interactions will have reduced the need for intermediaries to manage logistics services for multiple participants in the value chain. Across the industry, all winners will have fully digitised their customer interactions and operating systems and will be closely connected via data ecosystems.

A fully autonomous transport chain will extend from initial loading, stowage, and sailing all the way to unloading directly into autonomous trains and trucks and drone-enabled last- mile deliveries.

The needs of customers will diverge: some will expect their shippers to be fully integrated into their supply chains—and be willing to pay a premium for that—while others continue to demand sea freight at the lowest possible cost. Both sets of customers will expect transparency and reliability to be the norm, not the exception.

What therefore has to be done to move shipping and containerisation further into the digital age?

First, invest in digital, which is the main way to differentiate products, disintermediate value chains, improve customer service, raise productivity, and cut costs. The risk is that tech giants and would-be digital disruptors will move faster than incumbents and capture most of the value from customer relationships.

Second, think about consolidation: the industry’s natural end game may involve fewer, larger operators. The past few decades of explosive trade growth created an environment that could sustain many players. Now that growth has slowed, the industry must rationalise overcapacity. Although some companies and investors could be candidates to lead the next wave of consolidation, becoming a target may sometimes be better for shareholders than struggling to be the winner at any cost. McKinsey research shows that from 2000 to 2015, in a range of industries, the value from deals was nine percentage points higher for average target companies than for average acquirers.21

Third, integrate. Some next-generation innovations now on the drawing board require careful orchestration across the value chain. Carriers and terminal operators share a particularly rich agenda: bigger vessels paired with investments in infrastructure for terminals, complete transparency on ship arrivals and berthing (thanks to geospatial analytics), and larger containers. Integrated logistics providers could make today’s freight forwarders largely irrelevant by mastering the complexity and the customer interface.

Fourth, be bold. The shipping industry has been built on the vision of audacious leaders with the per- severance to sail through the storms. It now faces a wave of digital disruption. The ability to convey a sense of purpose for employees, to create optimism about the journey ahead, and to maintain a steady course will be the hallmarks of the leaders shaping the industry for the next.

McKinsey and Company’s 1967 predictions were on point, so their analysis of the next 50 years of evolvement cannot be ignored. These changes seem massive and unachievable at the moment, but that would have been the case 50 years ago as well, and the industry is unrecognisable from then.  It is exciting to watch what the next years have in store, and the advances that can be made to make sure that shipping does truly come alive during the digital age.

To view the full report please go here, where you can download the full report at the bottom of the page.

container port

August was an all time high for container ports

August’s Drewry global container port throughput index reached an all-time high of 126.8 points.

The August figure, the highest since inception of the index in January 2012, was nearly 7 points up on August 2016 (120.0 points) and more than 11 points up on the August 2015 level of around 116 points.

The global index climbed 0.5% from July’s figure of 126.2.

The month-on-month index figures for China and Europe dropped 0.5% in August – totalling 136.1 (down from 136.8) and 114.2 (down from 114.7) respectively, but show more than 5% annual increase.

All regions showed at least 5% annual growth in August 2017. However, 2016 was a weak comparison in many cases, said Drewry.

It added that Africa – with 117.4 points in August, up from 102.7 in August 2016 (107.2 in July 2017) – is showing double digit annual growth. It pointed out, however, that the sample size is small.

North America showed the highest annual change of 7.0%, with 137.7 points, up from 128.7 in August 2016.

Its monthly change of 2.8% is equal to Latin America, which jumped from 110.4 points in July 2017 to 113.5 in August.

Latin America saw the third highest annual change of 6.1%, with 107.0 points in August 2016.

The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 220 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes.

The Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the ISL – Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics showed a further substantial increase in September 2017 from 128.5 to 129.7 (revised figures). Compared to the beginning of 2017 it gained almost six points. A similarly strong plus was last achieved in 2010.

The index is based on data continuously collected from world container ports by ISL as part of its market monitoring. Because large parts of international merchandise trade are transported by ship, the development of port handling is a good indicator for world trade.

As many ports release information about their activities only two weeks after the end of the respective month, the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable early indicator for the development of international merchandise trade and hence for the activity of the global economy. Together, the 82 ports covered in the index account for about six out of ten containers handled worldwide. The flash estimate for September is based on data reported by 45 ports, accounting for close to 80% of the total index volume.

The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for October 2017 will be released on 21 November 2017.

•Source ISL / Port Strategy

 

sea freight

Sea Freight – Why use us?

Have you been quoted ocean freight for your November sailings yet?

Please contact a member of our team as we have very competitive rates for this month – enquiries@supremefreight.com / 02380 337778

We handle all types of cargo including:

  • Full Container Load (FCL)
  • Less Container Load (LCL)
  • NVOCC Groupage Systems
  • Out of gauge
  • Abnormal Loads
  • Hazardous Cargos

We have long standing relationships with a global network of agents at all origin ports which means that we can offer you the best possible service.  We have over 30 years experience in the shipping industry, and we can arrange all the necessary documentation to make sure that your goods are transported as seamlessly as possible.

What are the advantages of sending your goods by sea?

It is typically the cheaper option – larger volumes mean cheaper rates.

It is good if you don’t need quick shipments and have long lead times

It’s more environmentally aware –  and reduces ecological footprint

The capacity is much higher in container ships which means much higher load volumes

There are not many limits on what can be brought in via container – all types of goods can be shipped including dangerous/hazardous/restricted goods.

It is an ideal way of transporting heavy or bulky goods, or large amounts at once

 

 

why use us air freight

Air Freight – Why use us?

When it comes to international shipping, there are many choices as to how to move goods.  The main decision to make is what kind of transport to use.  Deciding between ocean freight and air freight is an important choice. Here, we give you the reasons why its a good idea to choose air freight.  

Going by air is the most time efficient. Its the fastest shipping method which means that goods can be moved quickly and is usually the more cost effective for smaller cargo.

The routes for air freight are large and diverse.  Most destinations in the world are covered and relatively easy to get to.  Air offers reliable departure and arrival times – a large amount of flights depart daily and this means that the risk of delay is lower than that of sea freight, with container ships usually on a weekly schedule.

Supreme freight specialise in restricted and hazardous goods, and dangerous cargo by air.  These types of goods need more rigorous checks, and with air freight comes a higher level of security generally, airport safety controls are paramount meaning that the restrictions can be difficult to navigate.

We have a team of highly skilled experts at our Heathrow Airport office with a broad range of experience in handling all types of shipments. We can:

Arrange daily nationwide collections

Offer an Air Freight consolidation service

Offer Direct and indirect shipment options

Create house airway bills on your behalf

We offer very competitive rates and we can invoice in USD to avoid any high currency exchange rates.

Why not contact us and see what we can offer?

enquiries@supremefreight.com

02380 337778

golden week

ALERT: Golden week and the implications for shippers

As part of celebrations for golden week, also called National Day, a major holiday is coming up in China from Saturday 1st October for a week, officially ending on the 7th but with effects lasting until the 10th.

It has been celebrated in mainland China and Hong Kong since 2000. The holiday was implemented by the Government to encourage domestic tourism and allow families to make long distance trips. This means that businesses come to a standstill.

All businesses will be closed, cargo flights are cancelled and ports operate on basic crews. Shipping quotes will be hard to obtain as nothing moves in or out.  Vessels are usually under capacity at this time so don’t sail.

Our advice is plan ahead! Contact us as soon as possible for rates and availability to secure your shipment in time. Please also be advised that there will be a back log of orders and freight after golden week which will mean that space will be at a premium.  If a shipment is time critical it is important to be organised before next week.

You can submit an enquiry through our website, send us an email or call us on 02380 337778.

We look forward to hearing from you.

future of shipping

The future of UK Shipping

At the end of London International shipping week, the transport secretary Chris Grayling set out his thoughts on the future of UK shipping. 

His speech focused on the changes in transport, and how the maritime industry is not only contributing to that change, but are increasingly leading it.

His first point concerned new technology and the advances in maritime autonomy.  Today, 90% of accidents at sea are caused by human error, and so there could be a huge safety benefit to keeping away from the risky routes.  Drones that are being increasingly deployed in other areas could also be used over our seas, inspecting ships and further improving safety.

This increase in efficiency could make maritime even more competitive against road freight, which in turn offers big environmental benefits.  Grayling also points out that this would obviously lead to concern over the effect of automation on jobs, and that these concerns quite rightly should be taken seriously.  However, he continues by saying that there is also evidence that rather than destroying jobs, automation creates wealth, and that wealth creates opportunity, and opportunity means new jobs. So, the seafarer of today might be the unmanned vessel operator of tomorrow – supervising several ships from a control station on-shore. He or she might help design intelligent software, or contribute to new naval architecture.

These type of new roles require different skills, and that is why it makes sense to invest in training. This week maritime industries have been called on to double to amount of people taken on as apprentices, and this will improve the capability of the work force. The government has also written to heads of maritime businesses and training colleges asking what more can be done to increase the number of women working in the industry. In the UK, too, of our 14,000 certified officers, only 3% are women. Only 4% of our technical officers are women. Of our engine officers, only 1% are women. The industry is missing out on 50% of the talent, and the potential progress that could be made.

Brexit and the EU was also a pertinent point.  Grayling believes that both the EU and the UK will work better as friendly neighbours than as part of a strained union. For instance, in less than 2 years, for the first time in more than 4 decades, the UK will begin to enjoy an independent trade policy.  Our departure from the EU will allow us to build those closer trading ties with countries around the world.  Trading with our neighbours in the EU is important, but trading with other countries such as the USA, Australia, China, India, Mexico, South Korea, India and Brazil will enable us to expand our trade, receiving the worlds goods, and exporting our own. That is why the government announced that it wants to draw up plans for the maritime industry stretching up until 2050.

To read the full report please go here

2016 port freight statistics are encouraging

According to the Department for Transports recently published 2016 final figures, total freight tonnage handled by UK ports declined by 3% in 2016. This decline is attributable to a large reduction in demand for coal imports. Despite this, steady growth has been experienced in unitised traffic, which saw its fourth consecutive year of growth in 2016.

* total tonnage decreased by 3% to 484.0 million tonnes
* coal handled showed the biggest decline of any cargo category more than halving to 12.0 million tonnes
* liquid bulk goods, which account for 40% of total tonnage, decreased by 2%
* crude oil handled has halved since 2000, to 87.1 million tonnes
* unitised traffic rose by 2% to 24.1 million units
* container units reached a record high of 5.9 million units
* overall roll-on roll-off traffic rose 1.4% to 18.2 million units
* the volume of import and export motor vehicles increased 1% to 4.5 million units
* 18.2 million Ro-Ro units passed through UK major ports via roll-on roll-off services, up 1.4% compared to 2015.
* 10.2 million TEUs of LoLo container traffic passed through UK major ports in 2016, up 4% from 2015. Felixstowe had a 0.3% increase to 24.8 tonnes.
* Maritime freight with the European Union grew 2% to 206.8 million tonnes in 2016, and accounted for 44% of all tonnage through UK major ports.

In 2016, major port tonnage fell whilst minor port tonnage increased . There are 51 major ports in the UK. UK major port tonnage fell by 3% in 2016 to 472.8 million tonnes. The major port share of UK port tonnage has remained stable at 98% since 2005. Minor port tonnage increased to 11.3 million tonnes, an increase of 3% on the previous year.

Overall domestic major port traffic – coastwise and one-port – fell to 98.6 million tonnes in 2016, a drop of 5% from 2015. However, one- port traffic, rose 13% to 20.0 million tonnes in 2016.

The proportion of domestic traffic c carried by UK registered ships increased 3% in 2016, to 23.5 million tonnes. This makes up 24% of all UK domestic traffic.

Imports made up 56% of all tonnage handled between the UK and EU countries. UK major ports received 116.6 million tonnes from countries in the EU in 2016, an increase of 4% compared to 2015. Among EU countries, the highest amount of imports was from the Netherlands, 31.5 million tonnes, 10% higher than 2015. Freight received from ports in the Netherlands now makes up over a quarter of all inward tonnage from the EU.

In contrast, exports from the UK to the EU fell 1.6% between 2015 and 2016, down to 90.1 million tonnes. This is due, in part, to a fall of 11% in exports to both France and Germany, primarily driven by falling liquid bulk imports. In contrast, exports to Italy nearly doubled to 1.8 million tonnes, with an increase in crude oil imports from 0.4 million tonnes in 2015 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2016.

Container traffic with the European Union rose 8% in 2016 to 2.0 million units. In terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), container traffic rose 9% to 3.6 million TEUs.

Container traffic between the UK and International deep sea destinations rose to 5.3 million TEUs, up 3% from 2015.
China is our largest partner for container traffic in 2016, resulting in 2.5 million TEUs, up 3% from 2015. This makes up 47% of all deep sea LoLo handled by UK ports. Second place is taken by the USA which contributes 0.4 million TEUs to our container traffic; this is 8% of all deep sea LoLo trade.

The full report can be found here

 

container port Southampton

Southampton on the list of top container growth in 2016

During 2016 126 ports handled more than 1 million teu containers.

According to DynaLiners report entitled millionaires roundup, 82 ports had experienced growth in the year with 5 ports showing growth of 25% or more.

These ports were Chittagong, Bangladesh (26%), London (26%), Salalah, Oman (29%), Tangshan, China (27%) and Southampton (26%).

14 ports reached over 10m teu. These included Antwerp, Belgium; Busan, South Korea; Dubai, UAE; Hong Kong; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Port Kelang, Malaysia; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Singapore and Tianjin, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao and Shanghai, China.

New entrants to the table included Itajai with 1,104,100 teu and growth of 12%, Izmit with 1,143,000 teu and growth of 16%, Port Qasim with 1,124,000 teu and growth of 16% and Qinzhou with 1,138,000 teu and growth of 24%.

No ports dropped out of the table but 43 saw negative growth on 2015, of which Freeport (Bahamas) recorded the largest decline of -14%. Lagos and Port Said each had a 12% decline, Santos had a 10% decline, Tanjung Pelepas had a 9% decline, Hai Phong had an 8% decline, Lianyungang had a 7% decline, Long Beach had a 6% decline and Kingston had a 5% decline.

The total teu handled by the ports was 589,350,800, with other ports not on the list accounting for 117,649,200.

China topped the list of teu growth by country in 2016, maintaining its position from 2015.

The Far East, North Europe and North America retained position one, two and three respectively from 2015, with the Far East seeing a 2% YoY growth, 3% for North Europe and 1% for North America.

Of the terminal operators included in the data, PSA remained in first place with 56,300,000 teu, growing 6%, Hutchinson Ports also maintained second place but with a 3% dip in growth, followed by APM Terminals also staying at number three with a 3% growth. DP World was fourth, keeping its rank but with zero growth, Cosco Shipping Ports also stayed at number five with a 4% growth.

The report took into account full and empty, loaded and discharged, including transhipment containers. It noted that “Chinese port statistics often include (large) unknown quantities of containerised river cargo. Without these, some of them might even not qualify for millionaire status.”

• Source: Port Strategy

low tariffs after brexit

Low tariffs post Brexit for British Manufacturers and Retailers

According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA) the government’s commitment (announced on 26 June 2017) to securing existing duty free access to UK markets for 48 of the world’s developing nations will ensure that British manufacturers and retailers can continue to trade efficiently and profitably. These agreements should ensure that the price of household items, ranging from textiles to tea, can be maintained at pre-Brexit levels.

Alex Veitch, Head of Global Policy at FTA says “Imports of many of our staple household items, which reach our shores in bulk shipments from around the globe, currently benefit from reduced or zero tariff agreements.  These keep prices stable, both for retailers and for manufacturers – a key requirement when other areas of the economy are currently more volatile.  FTA lobbying of government has been relentless in the past year on behalf of the members of the British Shippers’ Council, to ensure that their opinions have been considered, and we look forward to working with the Department for International Trade in the coming months to ensure that the nation’s shopping basket continues to be as affordable as possible.”

Since the EU referendum announcement, FTA has met representatives from the Department for International Trade on three occasions to discuss the priorities of the logistics sector.  “Today’s announcement is good news for British retailers, and great for developing countries.  Trade policy is set by EU member states, so after Brexit the UK will be free to chart its own course.  By committing to a policy of duty-free access to UK markets for these states, the government has stated its intentions to ensure that Britain will keep on trading outside the European Union.

As an EU member, the UK and companies based here can sell their goods freely to customers anywhere else in the EU without those customers having to pay additional taxes to import those goods. British consumers and companies can also import from elsewhere in the EU without tariffs.  The EU also has agreements allowing free trade with countries such as Norway, Switzerland, South Africa and South Korea. Outside the EU, the UK will need to strike new deals in order to have free trade with those countries or the remaining EU members.

According to analysis by Civitas, if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal UK exporters could face the potential impact of £5.2 billion in tariffs on goods being sold to the EU. However, EU exporters will also face £12.9 billion in tariffs on goods coming to the UK.

Brexit is still making its mark on the logistics industry, and the period of uncertainly means that global trade is at a transition. The UK will have to feel its way, and hope that the agreements made stay in place to ensure that we are in a strong position to trade.

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.