Are bigger container ships better?
Since the first container ship set sail from Port Newark, New Jersey to the Port of Houston, Texas with 58 containers on board, container ships have grown to giant proportions. With a capacity of 21,413 TEUs, the OOCL Hong Kong is the world’s largest container ship till date.
However, winners are holding to the title for shorter periods of time, as the size and scale of container ships are growing at an accelerating rate.
In just 50 years, these behemoths of the sea has tripled in size, and the capacity of the world’s largest container ship has increased by almost 1,200%:
From 1,530 TEUs in 1968, to 22,000 TEUs in 2018, vessels are shipping increasingly larger quantities of containers, but in lower frequencies.
With ocean efficiency at it’s peak, land-side operations — the ports and truckers who transport these containers downstream — will have to catch up to fill in the gap.
Why does size matter so much?
Ultimately, it all boils down to one word – efficiency.
Offering improved transport efficiencies and economies of scale help save on collective fleet maintenance, fuel, manpower, etc.
For example, a 10,000 TEU container ship will burn around 300 tonnes of fuel per day (when travelling at 46 km/h). Although a 5,000 TEU feeder container ship will burn about half that, the number of crew needed to move both vessels are roughly the same.
Furthermore, transporting 24,0000 TEUs can result in a potential cost decrease of 23%, as compared to 12,500 TEUs.
With increasing global trade volumes and economies of scale, it is no wonder why vessel sizes are increasing in size over the years.
It will be interesting to see big these behemoths can grow 50 years down the road.
Are you interested to find out more about Logistics and the Supply Chain industry? Come on down to the Singapore Logistics Carnival on 6 Oct 2018 to learn more!