Container shipping is a fact of life and will continue to be so for the long haul. However, this does not mean it will remain a static industry. Increased technology, the internet and data management influence how container shipping will develop. Size, capacity, green emissions and better industry-wide logistical management processes need discussing, researching and solutions implemented.
How Much Bigger Will Container Ships Become?
Over the last couple of years, the continued growth of container shipping and the building of some ultra-large container ships, ULCS, has continued. The aim being to reduce costs by carrying more, faster. The Ever Alot is the most extensive intermodal container ship built with 24,000 TEUs – 20-feet equivalent unit capacity. The Ever Alot can carry 240,000 tons, is 399 metres long, and is as high as a 22-story building.
However, no matter how impressive these ships are, a few logistical difficulties that can impede building bigger ones need to be addressed—the first would be having a sufficient number of terminals and ports worldwide to process ships of this size. It will take a sizeable investment to bring these ports into a position to process these vessels; this would include the creation of more deep-water berths and increasing cargo terminals and lifting equipment to process these vast vessels quickly enough.
Another concern is that these ships will struggle to take passage through some of the main shipping routes of the Suez and Panama canals. An experience we encountered in March 2021 was when the Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal for six days, causing four months of cargo delay.
Bad weather is another factor governing the size of a shipping vessel. The bigger the container vessels are, the more vulnerable they become to bad weather when the risks of parametric rolling increase.
Unprecedented Difficulties Causing Intermodal Transport Disruptions
Since 2020, we have seen rising costs due to Corvid 19. This disruption to global transportation has not eased due to the effects of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Shipping schedules remain disrupted. A knock-on effect of all this is the continuing interruption of the delivery of consumer goods throughout the world and congested ports. While some ports remained functional throughout the lockdown, carriers were limited ith routes, even if they could get drivers to work the routes!
Positive & Greener Trends For The Future
A positive outcome of the chaos caused by Corvid 19 is the investment in innovative, technical solutions, alongside industry standards for shippers and carriers to adhere to. Creating these partnerships will facilitate standard industry-wide common processes that will standardise processing and increase automation solutions. In addition, the adoption of Blockchain tech for maritime trade is also on the cards.
As concerns over the ever-increasing climate change, global governments are putting pressure on all container transport to improve their carbon footprint. Alongside these regulations, shipping companies have set targets that surpass the regulation stipulations on emissions. Due to this, we will probably see an increase in the use of LNG-fueled vessels in the next few years.
Container Shipping In A State Of Flux
It will be interesting to see how resolving the current state of flux within the shipping industry is achieved. Investment is occurring in technology, data management, and intermodal transportation infrastructure around the globe. Something we, as carriers, are extremely interested in and will continue to keep a close eye on.