How large will the ships get?
With the launch of the MSC Oscar, which can carry more than 19,000 shipping containers, the new bench mark for the largest vessel on Earth has been set. I remembered when the Regina Maersk was the talk of the industry when I first started my career with Maersk Line in 1996. With a capacity of 6,400 TEU, she was the first vessel to break the record of the APL C-10, which had held the record for largest container ship for a number of years.
Yet, both the C-10 and Regina class ships are positively quaint in size compared to what is being built today.
Much of the talk today is about the upper limit of vessel size, but for the US market the implications are not always obvious. The largest vessels do not call the US, and the ship building orders are not destined for the US. However, these new vessels are displacing the large vessels well over 12,000 TEU already in use in the Asia-Europe trade lanes, and they're coming to the US. When vessels start going above 22,000 TEU, the 16,000-18,000 TEU will be displaced yet again.
The consequence is that the US market has to absorb these large vessels, despite the lack of demand. Terminals have to build large cranes and increase their capacity. Terminals focus, understandably, on productivity along the berth. But all the while, truckers pay the price in long turn times because of yard congestion. Focusing on the gate is just as important, because the vessel works faster when there is less congestion in the yard, and getting containers out of the facility efficiently reduces that congestion.
To learn more about how Crux Systems helps trucks move faster through marine terminals, see our product tour.