Ports and shipping lines could save USD 2bn per year

A “revolutionary new container handling system”, aimed at easing the increasing problem of port congestion, is being launched at a technical demonstration in Shanghai at the end of November.
Designated ‘BLOK-BEAM’, the system enables six containers to be lifted and transported as one single block, largely using existing port infrastructure.
Managing director of BLOK-BEAM Ltd John Evans said: “Now that ships are able to deliver around 20,000 20FT containers on one vessel, and the cranes to service them can lift up to 100 tonnes at a time, it is the ports which, in spite of their improved efficiency, have become the focus of attention in ship-to-shore movement.”
Mr Evans said that ports handle over 500 million containers annually, of which as many as 25% are empty. With container terminals charging up to US$300 per lift, the potential savings to the industry are massive.
“We estimate that if only one-third of empty moves of containers are handled by BLOK-BEAM, the industry would save over US$2 billion per year – before even considering the vast expense of idle time, fuel savings, general efficiency, losses at sea, and safety.
Safety is indeed a big issue at sea, on deck, and on the quayside. Individual containers can be linked for lifting as a tandem vertical lift. But being so high, they risk being unstable and can topple over on quayside or deck. At the recent ICHCA Ship-Port Interface Seminar in London, one presentation indicated that even worse can happen at sea, where the stacks can go up to 10 high and thousands of containers are lost overboard or damaged each year.
The BLOK-BEAM demonstration at the QSOE factory, near Shanghai will take place on 28 November 2016. For more information contact John.Evans@Blok-Beam.com.

Pirates switch tactics

Global piracy has shifted away from hijacking and towards kidnapping, according to new analysis by IHS Markit.
“Piracy has changed in the past three years,” said Devlin McStay, data analyst at IHS Maritime and Trade. “The number of piracy attacks is decreasing overall, but kidnapping is becoming more common. We are seeing the number of kidnappings rise in the piracy hotspots of South East Asia and West Africa.”
IHS Maritime & Trade tracked nine kidnappings in 2014. That number rose to 19 in 2015, and so far stands at 44 from January to 30 September 2016.
In 2015, a total of 19 crew members were kidnapped. Between January and September 2016, 44 crew members were kidnapped. Within the same timeframe, 37 per cent of crew involved in a piracy situation have been kidnapped.
In the Gulf of Guinea, kidnapping accounted for 20 per cent of all piracy incidents in 2012, hijacking 24 per cent and robbery 56 per cent. Between January and September 2016, 60 per cent of all piracy incidents were kidnappings and 40 per cent robberies.
“Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is focused on kidnapping for ransom and is concentrated on high-value Western targets,” said Martin Roberts, senior analyst at IHS Country Risk. “The need for alternative funding and ongoing militancy in the Niger Delta region will continue to drive these risks into 2017. Onshore dynamics are affecting offshore risks.”
Attack trends
The areas most affected by piracy include Southeast Asia, near the Malacca Straits, the Gulf of Aden, and the Gulf of Guinea.
In 2014, there were 245 piracy attacks across 26 countries, 20 fewer than 2013. The number of incidents in 2015 were similar. So far, 2016 has had fewer than 100 attacks, making it the quietest year in six years.
The seas around the Philippines are the most pirated, with the seas around Nigeria the second most and the seas around India third.
“Tankers and bulk carriers are the target of choice, with smaller product chemical and oil tankers the most sought after,” McStay said. “A healthy demand for black market fuel and cargo that can be transferred quickly, means that these are the most sought after.”
Escalating trend: militant groups and piracy in South East Asia
“We are now seeing terrorist groups, such as Abu Sayyaf, employing a modus operandi more commonly associated with the region’s pirate groups,” said Ridzwan Rahmat, naval analyst and reporter at IHS Jane’s.
Between March and July 2016, armed cells affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf are suspected to have been behind at least six known cases of kidnap-for-ransom operations, involving five tugs towing barges and a fishing trawler underway in waters off eastern Sabah and the Southern Philippines.
“The group has carried out kidnap-for-ransom operations in the past, but these were mostly from locations ashore,” Mr Rahmat said. “This latest spate of attacks at sea, taking place also within a relatively short time, represents an escalation compared to what previously were isolated incidents.”
Future threats in South East Asia
A number of potential developments on the technology front may also be presenting a challenge in maintaining South East Asian maritime security, according to the analysis from IHS Jane’s.
“One such development Navies are monitoring closely is the availability of cheaper and more portable smartphone devices that are proliferating in line with wider internet connectivity, even in South East Asia’s more remote regions,” Mr Rahmat said.
“Better internet connectivity has also given potential perpetrators of maritime crime the ability to monitor open sources of information, such as live automatic identification system (AIS) tracking websites, and to use information such as projected routes and arrival times, as well as cargo data, to target potential ships passing through vulnerable areas.”
Proliferation of technologies with potentially offensive capabilities, such as readily available remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which can be used by criminals for surveillance or payload delivery, is also a concern, the analysis said.
 

Choosing the right weighing system

The transport and freight industries have broad and differing needs when it comes to the weighing of goods and there isn’t one ‘right’ answer to the question of which weighing system is best for freight.
In these industries, requirements can range from static and dynamic vehicle weighing technologies such as weighbridges, axle weighers, truck scales, forklift scales, pallet weighers, weighing-in-motion (WIM) systems and onboard vehicle weighing systems through to calibrated and certified weighing systems for legislative purposes and management practices such as driver control systems and integrated software.  The solution depends on the specific weighing requirement.
Choosing the most appropriate weighing system depends on several factors including cost, speed of operation, efficiency, legal compliance, operating environment, frequency of use and accuracy.  It also goes without saying that for freight companies, time is money and their aim is to use their time, resources and equipment as efficiently as possible – so their choice of weighing equipment is crucial.
Speed is vital. Freight companies want to expedite the movement of freight and minimise the amount of time that vehicles spend on site so weighing systems need to operate efficiently without delaying operations. One example is forklift scales that can collect weight data seamlessly without causing any disruptions.
Accuracy is also important, because discrepancies in freight weights can lead to costly delays, disputes and claims and can have a negative impact on customer relationships. Billing accuracy and safe loading are commercial imperatives and freight companies need the peace-of-mind that there are no variances between the package weights that they are being charged for and the ones that their customers are paying for. Weighing inaccuracies can impact on a company’s profitability and bottom-line – so precision performance is key.
Choosing a weighing system that can handle heavy duty is also imperative. Many freight companies operate in rugged, harsh conditions and equipment needs to be sufficiently robust and durable to withstand continuous operation in challenging environments.
Freight weighing systems are also crucial from a legislative perspective. Trucks and vehicles have to be loaded within legal limits for compliant road use and to ensure that they meet the legislative requirements for duty of care and Chain of Responsibility laws. On-board truck scales are a good way of avoiding financial penalties, ensuring safety and weight concerns are addressed whilst at the same time, assisting operators to enhance their fuel and operational efficiencies.
Overloaded vehicles are also unsafe, so weighing systems such as onboard truck scales and weigh-in-motion systems play a crucial role in preventing non-compliant vehicles from entering the road network.
Further legislation in the form of the new SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) regulations will also have a major impact on organisations’ choices of weighing systems because this directive puts legal responsibility for compliance directly onto the shipper. In terms of these new global laws, container gross weights have to be verified before they can be loaded onto a vessel either at a verified weighing station or by combining the individual verified weights of all packages in the container (plus the weight of the container and any packaging materials).   These new laws will have a knock-on effect throughout the container supply chain – so it’s essential to understand what your obligations are and to choose the appropriate certified weighing system if required.
For operators across the freight industry, from warehousing and aviation to road transport, rail and shipping, having the right weighing system is imperative. If you need help matching your needs with the appropriate system, a good call is to talk to someone with extensive industry experience and a deep understanding of the legislative and operational landscape – because there should be no room for error.
Article supplied by Accuweigh.

Australian stevedoring prices cheapest on record

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released this week, stevedoring costs are at their lowest point since records began.
The ABC and others report that the ACCC’s annual Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report found competition levels had led to the lowest prices since the first report was written, in 1998 – 1999.
Investments in capacity and automation from DP World and Patrick, the owners of the four largest ports in the country, had been seen.
“Increasing competition between stevedores should deliver cheaper imports and lower costs for exporters and will see benefits flow through the whole economy,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in the report.
Productivity levels were “strong” and largely unchanged, “at close to record levels”. Capital productivity fell slightly overall, while labour productivity “increased from 45.3 to 47.0 containers per hour and is now at record levels.”

Thyssenkrupp Materials Australia opens new facility in Victoria

 Thyssenkrupp Materials Australia has announced the opening of a new facility in Dandenong, Victoria. The expansion will provide a growing customer base with a range of products and materials services.
“The opening of our facility in Dandenong is an opportunity for us to bring our quality products closer to where customers need them the most, and for us to establish a key footprint in the Victorian market,” said Brad Foster, General Manager, thyssenkrupp Materials Australia. “This strategic expansion signals our commitment to furthering and growing our operations in the country”
The new facility will offer a range of rolled and extruded aluminium products in the 2000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 series. It will also support the local Victorian market with other services including cut-to-size on both rolled and extruded products with state-of-the-art equipment including a CNC plate and band saw.

Charity calls on fleets to tackle distracted driving

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on fleet operators to crackdown on mobile phone use at the wheel, as fewer than half (38 per cent) of respondents in its annual Fleet Safety Survey have an organisation-wide policy banning all employees from using hands-free phones at the wheel.
This year’s Fleet Safety Survey, conducted with the support of Licence Bureau, covered the six key areas of the Brake Pledge:

  • Slow – within speed limits
  • Sober – free from alcohol or drugs
  • Sharp – not tired, ill or with poor eyesight
  • Silent – phone off and out of reach
  • Secure – belted up in a safe vehicle
  • Sustainable – only when you have to

Driving is a highly unpredictable and risky activity, which requires your full attention at all times. Drivers who perform a secondary task at the wheel are two to three times more likely to crash.
Whilst the number of respondents who have an organisation-wide policy banning all mobile phone use, including hands free, has increased since Brake’s last survey on this topic (2013) from three in ten respondents to four in ten, Brake is urging all companies to adopt such policies, given research shows that the call itself is the main distraction.
Technological innovation means an increasing amount of in-vehicle systems for drivers to interact with, such as sat-nav or GPS, Bluetooth and touch-screen displays, yet just 44 per cent of respondents have a policy that drivers should not adjust, or communicate using, any of their in-vehicle technology while driving.
Many drivers allow themselves to be distracted because they believe they are in control, and do not believe distraction poses a significant risk. However, 98 per cent are not able to divide their attention without significant deterioration in driving performance. It is essential that organisations have policies in place that ban drivers from using mobile phones at the wheel.
More than 200 fleet operators completed this survey; the majority of respondents are from the UK, with responses also coming from fleets based in Australasia, Asia, Africa, North America, and mainland Europe. Respondents manage a total of more than 190,000 vehicles including mopeds, cars, vans, trucks, and buses, and more than 170,000 employees driving for work. The size of the fleets varied: the smallest were single-vehicle operators; the largest had over 80,000 vehicles.
Other key survey findings include:

  • Fewer than one in ten respondents (8 per cent) prioritise environmental concerns when making vehicle purchasing and leasing decisions.
  • Only three in ten (33 per cent) require a full eyesight test for all new staff who drive for work, or proof they had one recently.
  • Only one in ten (12 per cent) have vehicle safety ratings as their top priority when making purchasing and leasing decisions.
  • Only five in ten respondents (53 per cent) strongly agree that their organisation sees licence checking as a priority.
  • Three in ten respondents (31 per cent) don’t provide any training, even at a remedial level, on staying within legal speed limits.

 

Rail track modules add to fuel efficiency on train networks

Running autonomous longer, heavier, fuel efficient and safer trains with less track wear has become more cost effective with new generations of XBee (ZigBee-based) communication modules, claims the manufacturer. These modules attach to the track and self-powered by new generation energy scavenging and smart batteries.
In basic terms, more measurement means more (process) management particularly when combined with logical and fast data algorithms to crunch the numbers. If Google can do it with online searching, then train control becomes a ‘walk in the park’. And that is what the Columbus Innovative R&D is about. It is suited to heavy iron ore ops, nation-wide container trains and export grain shipping links.
The technology can be fitted to both new and existing rail networks, quickly with less disruption, claims Columbus. Its 3R system of rapid rail restoration track rebuilding hardware is claimed to turn transport liabilities into revenue-positive networks, with less track wear for lower maintenance cost savings.

Courier company secures more funding

Crowdsourced delivery and courier service Go People has raised in excess of $2 million in two rounds of funding over the last three months, with its latest round raising a further $825,000.
The company is reportedly looking to to capitalise on the demand for on-demand couriers and become the go-to people for simpler deliveries. Go People – formerly knowne as People Post – has also undergone a facelift, with a new brand name and technology platform.
According to Wayne Wang, Founder and CEO of Go People, the recent raise and surge in demand marks a significant turning point for the company.
“Since I started the business in 2014, I believed the courier model could be much more efficient,” said Wang. “We went to market to change the delivery industry and disrupt legacy delivery and courier rules, resetting the benchmark of how deliveries can be made.”
Go People will use the additional funds to continue its growth in the domestic market, “and keep competitors at bay.”
“Although we have seen a number of new entrants come to market with a similar model or other on-demand services companies looking to expand into the deliveries industry, we’re not fazed,” said Wang. “Parcel delivery can be much more complex than other on-demand services. That is because a runner – our name for a courier – needs to be able to deliver parcels to multiple locations in the simplest and most efficient manner.
“That’s where our proprietary routing and grouping algorithms set us apart. We work out the best routes and the best locations for them travel, to make their life easier and, in turn, make them more money.”
Go People routing and grouping algorithms have reportedly been improved further, ensuring runners receive the best routes for bulk and on-demand jobs, fitting more deliveries into the day.

Driverless cars to dominate by 2038

The majority of vehicles on Queensland roads will be autonomous by 2038, according to one South East Queensland engineer.
TransPosition director Peter Davidson said strong growth in the next two decades was the output of a study conducted for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads which looked at the transport landscape for South East Queensland in the future and how that will affect peoples’ behaviour.
Mr Davidson will address the state’s leading engineers and public works professionals at the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia, Queensland (IPWEAQ) state conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on November 8-10.
“We wanted to investigate the effect autonomous vehicles would make on our road network and the long-term policy impacts of that,” Mr Davidson said.
“What we found was that in 2046 we could have a completely autonomous network, with higher speeds and capacities and far fewer crashes.
“This study is unique as it was done based on a detailed model of the South East Queensland network, including public and active transport.”
Mr Davidson said autonomous vehicles would change the way people act whilst in the car, leading them to see driving in a new light.
“People will use their time differently in autonomous vehicles,” he said.
“They will be able to catch up on emails, watch TV and eventually, sleep, making public and active transport a less attractive way of getting from A to B.
“Taking trips in cars will be more economical and attractive over other modes of transport leading to people taking more trips, more often, for longer distances in their autonomous vehicles.”
But whether autonomous vehicles will have the desired effect on congestion remains to be seen.
“It’s true autonomous vehicles will allow speed limits and road capacity to be increased, however, with the attractiveness of autonomous vehicles there will be more cars on the road,” Mr Davidson said.
“This is why the study recommended society move away from private ownership of cars and move into a service model, which would create a more efficient system and make better use of public transport,” he said.
 

Christmas sales looking up

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In what is starting to feel like déjà vu, retail sales growth will remain positive despite a modest slowdown heading into the December quarter, according to the latest AFGC CHEP Retail Index released today.
The index shows year-on-year growth again slowing, from 3.5 per cent in the June Quarter to 2.5 per cent in the September quarter. The index forecasts a further softening heading into the December quarter with year-on-year growth at 1.5 per cent.
Additionally, on a monthly basis, the index shows year-on-year growth of 1.9 per cent in September slowing to 1.6 per cent in November 2016.
Australian Food and Grocery Council CEO Gary Dawson said: “The larger-than-expected fall in retail sales growth reflects a number of factors such as moderating jobs growth and record low wages growth, a long-term deflation in food and grocery retail prices domestically and increasing input costs. This all adds up to the outlook, while still one of growth, being less robust than the food and grocery sector would like to see especially heading into the December quarter holiday period.”
The AFGC CHEP Retail Index is a collaborative project between the Australian Food and Grocery Council, CHEP Australia and Deloitte. The index uses CHEP transactional data based on pallet movements and is a lead indicator of Australian Bureau of Statistics Retail Trade Data.
The next AFGC CHEP Retail Index will be released in late January 2017.
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