- A high number of ultra-large container ships hauling anywhere from 14,000 to 21,000 containers are bound for U.S. ports in 2018, with many likely to unload on the East Coast, the Post & Courier reported last week.
- As a result, the amount of container storage needed has forced the Port of Charleston to invent new methods of stacking and arranging at its 250 acre Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant. Taller cranes are already in place to build the stacks of containers significantly higher.
- Next month, the State Ports Authority board of directors will examine reconfiguration plans and develop a new estimate of just how many containers can fit in the yards at Wando Welch. The SPA has previously put container capacity at 2.8 million per year.
The importance of containers in ocean transport shipping can't be overstated.
Nearly 600 containers are lost at sea each year, causing environmental damage as well as rising insurance costs. Lost containers also contribute to shortages at ports, which leads to hoarding. This ultimately affects the supply chain — users in landlocked states cannot gain access to fill containers with goods needing to be shipped.
In addition, the chassis needed to support containers can also fall short, as happened during the Hanjin bankruptcy, when chaos from absent chassis affected countless ports and terminals.
Sometimes too many containers accumulate, as at the Port of Charleston, and cause disruption.
"The strong growth of our container business makes it essential to efficiently utilize space on the terminal," Erin Dhand, Manager of Corporate Communications and Community Affairs for the Port told Supply Chain Dive. "We’re making a few changes at our Wando Welch Terminal — moving chassis to different location on terminal, relocating a few office buildings away from the dock to a more interior location on terminal."
In other words, the number of containers are spurring a reconsideration of available space.
"We’re not expanding that facility, just making some changes that support efficiency of the operation as a whole," Dhand concluded.