Ports must continually invest in infrastructure and efficient equipment to remain competitive. The largest ports in particular have made substantial upgrades to serve mega-vessels, for example triple-e vessels carrying more than 18,000 TEUs. Port container terminals have been transformed into mega-terminals capable of handling more than 3.5 million TEUs per year.
This is the age of mega ships. These massive ships are carrying more cargo than ever before, and play a vital role in maritime transportation, dictating the future of the shipping industry. Just two years ago, the largest ship had a capacity of 19,200 TEUs.
On June 26, 2016, the Panama Canal opened its new set of locks, thus guaranteeing the transits of Neopanamaxsize vessels. After more than one year of operations, we have witnessed more than 1,700 transits of these larger ships, which are distributed among several market segments.
Shipping lines’ recent strategy shifts have strained market conditions, highlighted by the ultimate collapse of Hanjin Shipping in February 2017. Hanjin Shipping accounted for approximately 10% of all container handling at Busan ports, so its demise pushed Busan Port Authority (BPA) into the red, with total container handling plunging 0.1% in 2016 from 2015.
Two trends have defined container shipping in the past decade. To start with, bigger and bigger ships were built at an unprecedented pace. The result was systemic overcapacity, which triggered various consolidations among shipping companies. The second is that port authorities and terminal operators were faced with major challenges owing to this development.
IMO Member States will in June 2017 begin to develop a strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from the international shipping sector, in line with the ambitious spirit of the Paris Agreement on climate change
The ultimate reason to develop ports is to stimulate exports or imports, not to satisfy shipping companies. However, most ports are very attentive to the demands of their customers – too attentive. Sure enough, not providing satisfactory services could mean that shipping companies call another port.
In the new era we see, vendors of solutions will date to venture out their niches and look for solutions that connect and interchange information in real time to provide actionable visibility and enable efficient decision making. These solutions will be possible because new standards for information exchange and a set of common semantics have evolved.
Today’s trainee is Rory, and it's his very first time operating a ship-to-shore crane. Yet, in gusting 40mph winds in a cab 53 metres from the Liverpool quayside, he's already moved five stacks of 40ft containers from a mega-ship sitting in the River Mersey to a waiting trailer below on the new £400m Liverpool2 container terminal.
Digitising complete supply chains and automating information exchange could form a solution to this problem . In order to overcome current information exchange barriers research is currently being undertaken on the translation of the internet to the real-world.
The interdependence of all actors of the maritime logistics chain is clearly demonstrated and justifies a holistic and balanced approach, be it in regards to investment, competition, level playing field, digitalisation, trade facilitation, sustainability or innovation.