APM Terminals said ports must start to draw up plans now to handle the future generation of giant container ships with capacities up to 22,000 20-foot equivalent units.
This comes as its sister company, Maersk Line, prepares to launch the world’s largest vessels of 18,000 TEUs onto the Asia-Europe trade in 2013.
“While none have been ordered yet, studies have been completed on the feasibility of constructing container ships with a 22,000 TEUs capacity…so planning for crane and other infrastructure support to accommodate such vessels and their container volumes is a very necessary exercise for any major port hub,” said Halfdan Ross, Crane Engineering Services Manager for A.P. Moller-Maersk’s port operating unit.
“There are issues of structural stiffness, weight, visibility and wind load which all must be taken into account with cranes of such dimensions, along with the question of upgrading existing equipment or installing new cranes entirely,” Ross told the TOC Container Supply Chain Asia conference in Hong Kong.
Improved engineering, camera-assisted and remote control of the crane operations are some solution for the noted issues, but increased power requirements may also pose obstacles, particularly in emerging economies with power generation or supply issues.
As of Feb. 1, there were 153 container ships on order with capacities in excess of 10,000 TEUs, including 20 of Maersk Line’s 18,000 TEUs EEE Class vessels, according to APM Terminals. There are currently 121 vessels of 10,000 TEUs and higher in service.
“The point is that ultra-large vessels are already in service, and even larger vessels will follow, and so the time to prepare the necessary terminal and quay infrastructure is now,” Ross said.
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