Still a need for container yards

Industry Database

Container yards will continue to exist in some form, despite potential innovative new methods of transporting cargo, Kalmar’s Tomi Tuulkari has claimed.

Mr Tuulkari, product management director for Intelligent Crane Solutions at Kalmar, wrote in an insight article that a yard of this kind will “[perform] an essential role as an easily-manageable and cost-efficient buffer between water and landside operations”.

“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,” he argued.

In the article, Mr Tuulkari explained that the container yard is still required to keep resource needs balanced and to not bring in any new waste sources.

Additionally, the yard serves the supply chain at large, he claimed, an example being helping distribution centres and production facilities maintain a suitable buffer to achieve their targets.

New innovations

The director also offered opinions on new technologies for the container realm.

If Uber Freight — which was launched with a vision of matching truck drivers, with available capacity, to available loads for lowering deadhead mileage — has the same effect as Uber with the taxi industry, it could completely alter the face of the container terminal yard, he claimed.

“With sufficient capacity available at very-short notice to transport containers away from the terminal, the need for storage space in the yard would diminish significantly, especially in import-export-type operations,” he said.

Fleets of self-driving, automated guided vehicle-type (or AGV-type) vehicles using public roads to transport cargo away from a terminal could also come about, he argued, with the additional overcapacity enabled by these vehicles potentially substantially reducing yards’ requirement to store and manage large volumes of containers brought in by sea.

Mr Tuulkari added that in the future, dedicated freight hyperloop pods could distribute containers via a tunnel network and that further on, hyperloop could significantly lower the need for container vessels, barges, cargo feeders and rail networks.

The director hoped that future container terminals will witness increasingly-close collaboration between automated equipment and people, believing that using collaboration robots, or ‘cobots’, “will open up a world of opportunities to improve terminal operations”.

Additionally, he felt terminals can realise significant benefits from increasing interaction between different machine types, adding that bringing together people and different automated equipment kinds means that problems can be solved “on the fly” faster.

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