Automated Container Loading

IMG_5794When maritime industry leaders speak about using automated robots for moving cargo, it may sound like the reasoning is to cut the costs of manual labor, which in turn might lower ocean freight shipping rates. It seems that there are other circumstances that might pave the way for more automated machines to help with the unloading and loading of containers at the ports.

As it is well documented, the stevedores had a tough time dealing with the backlog of containers at the ports, which is a consequence of the months of congestion. New carrier agreements are also changing the timing at the ports. And there are also larger vessels at the ports holding more than 10,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units). Some vessels soon will be able to hold more than 18,000 TEUs. These Post-Panamax ships require cranes that are double the size of a standard crane.

All of these circumstances are resulting in longer loading and unloading times at the ports. The concept, in the industry, is that automated robots will cut down on the time at the ports. The theory of having robots at the ports might scare some of the dockworker unions. However, even the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has agreed to utilize some technology at the ports.

American Shipper recently reported about a company, SSA marine, which invested $50 million in information technology at several West Coast terminals. The result is terminals that move 50% more boxes per hour. Contact your trusted freight forwarder if you have questions about automated robots at the ports.

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