Equipment Shift Understates Demand in Box Trades

MarineLink.com
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Demand for 40ft high-cube containers continues to grow, creating stowage problems for ocean problems for carriers and entities requiring an accurate assessment of demand, according to Drewry.
 

This week’s Container Insight Weekly from Drewry highlights the growing share of 40ft high-cube (9ft 6in high) containers in the global maritime container fleet and how the phenomenon is causing problems for carriers and forecasters alike.


The popularity of 40ft HCs is easy to understand. Being around 13% larger than ordinary 40ft boxes, shippers can load that amount of extra cargo at little to no extra freight cost. Moreover, inland transport is usually charged on a per container basis for light cargo, so there are no extra haulage costs too.


Matthew Beddow, manager of Drewry’s Container Insight Weekly, said the growing popularity of the 40ft HCs has two significant implications.


“The first is that the increasing need to stow 9ft 6in containers below deck, which results in loss of cargo space for shipping lines, is reaching a critical junction,” said Beddow.


“Whereas nearly all the equipment has been stowed on deck so far, particularly reefers, this cannot continue much longer, bearing in mind that just over 50% of a ship’s cellular capacity is located on deck. When under-deck stowage is required, as much as 7ft (2.1m) can be lost between the top of the last tier of a stack and the main deck, as ship holds are usually designed for 8ft 6in boxes.


“The second message is that containerised cargo growth measured in teu has increasingly been underestimated over time. This is because a 40ft HC container usually only counts as two teu, the same as 2 x 20ft (8ft 6in) boxes, or  1 x 40ft (8ft 6in) container, even though it is approximately 13% bigger.”


Therefore, in a major tradelane like the eastbound transpacific, where 40ft equipment is the norm due to light average cargo weights, although year-on-year growth in the first seven months of 2013 was only 1.856% measured in teu, it was over 2.2% measured in ‘constant’ teu.


“The difference may not seem much, but it makes a big difference to economists trying to make sense of the changes between GDP growth and cargo growth. It is also cumulative, so gets bigger over longer periods of time,” said Beddow.


The full article is available at http://ciw.drewry.co.uk/features/high-cubes-a-growing-phenomenon


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