The future role of container yards is still uncertain, although “change is most certainly on the horizon”, according to Tomi Tuulkari, Kalmar’s Director of Product Management for Intelligent Crane Solutions.
In a blog post for the cargo handling solutions provider, Tuulkari described the yard as a “pivotal buffer” between water and landside operations, but one which is likely to be affected by emerging factors.
A disruptive technology that may play a part is the Virgin Hyperloop One, which could be operational in some regions by the mid-2020s, according to Tuulkari.
Tuulkari has proposed a future where “dedicated freight hyperloop pods are used to distribute containers via a tunnel network”, reducing the need for cargo feeders, barges, rail networks and even container ships.
Virgin One Hyperloop has already begun collaborating with DP World, with the two companies introducing DP World Cargospeed in April 2018, a system that Tuulkari has described as “an international brand for hyperloop-enabled cargo systems that aims to deliver freight at the speed of flight”.
Peter Söderberg, of Kalmar, discusses cargo handling equipment in a recent Port Technology technical paper
The automation debate is also of importance to Tuulkari, who said in his post that “increasingly close” collaboration between people and automated equipment would take place in the future.
Although the role of the yard may shift, Tuulkari has projected that it will be a crucial part of port operations as the industry will still need the yard in order to keep resource needs “in balance” and not introduce any new sources of waste.
Tuulkari concluded: “Yes, the equipment may change in nature; sure, we might see innovative new ways of transporting cargo away from terminals; but regardless, the yard will still exist in one form or another, performing an essential role.”