Ports need to get smarter

16 Feb 2017
Manufacturers' view: Ultra-large containerships were introduced without full consideration of the cost for ports and terminals and impact on local transport infrastructure

Manufacturers' view: Ultra-large containerships were introduced without full consideration of the cost for ports and terminals and impact on local transport infrastructure

International port equipment manufacturers are pointing to challenges outside changing trade horizons, Brexit and The Trump Effect, which means that ports will need to get smarter.

UK Minister for Transport, Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP joined delegates at the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) AGM in London to hear first-hand how industry experts plan to handle the squeeze as globalisation slows.

Ottonel Popesco, PEMA president, said: “To function more effectively, port equipment manufacturers, ports and shippers need to establish an open dialogue in which challenges are tackled holistically.”

At the AGM, industry leaders predicted a growth in protectionism and a slowing down for globalisation, but, they say, it’s a result of the market’s maturity rather than the uncertain climate for trade across the UK, Europe and in the US.

During the two-day event at London’s County Hall speakers urged port manufacturers to agree a common position on optimal sizes of ships for given routes and customer’s delivery-time expectations, to optimise the supply chain.

Delegates heard that demand for container shipping had plateaued and that considerable vessel scrapping initiatives were expected over the next few years.

Mega ships and strategic alliances are behind the consolidation, say industry experts, and the focus on big players is escalating with more shifts to economies of scale in the past 12 months than in the past 12 years.

Delegates heard that while ultra- large container vessels had brought operational efficiencies for shipping lines, such vessels had, in essence, been introduced without full consideration of the cost for ports and terminals and impact on local transport infrastructure.

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