“Tomorrow never comes?” Sez who? (A reprint of Vol. XVI, Art. 13)

Maybe everything happens for the best after all. Being a participant in the deceitful “business of fear” would not have set well with those we’re trying to help. The effort and money expended in the useless scanning/inspecting of containers aboard ship would not have pleased those connected with our firm, and would have displeased U.S. citizens even more on the day of reckoning. And that day is rapidly approaching.

Our patented systems provide legitimate benefits for those in any way dependent on maritime trade. Knowing that any container aboard a vessel fitted with our system is accessible regardless of its location, just think of the time and money that will be saved in loading and offloading operations.

Let’s say one of your containers needs to be offloaded at the first port of call. And let’s say it was one of the first to be put on board … that it was not located on the topmost row. A number of containers must, therefore, be offloaded in order to get to your container, and when your container is finally offloaded, those other containers must be loaded once again aboard the vessel. Primitive.

It costs time and money, but that’s how it’s done … not occasionally, mind you, but all of the time.

Of course it’s possible for you to save time at the point of delivery by arranging to have your container put on board last, on a top row, so it could be offloaded first. It’s called “hot hatching”, but you’ll pay dearly for this special privilege because, although it saves time at the point of delivery, it wastes time at the loading point! So either way, it’s “pay me now or pay me later”.

Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to load the vessel as quickly and as cheaply as possible, and to offload every container, or any single container, as quickly and as cheaply as possible, whenever and wherever required … without removing or even handling any other container aboard the vessel?

Seeing is believing, so please examine the Abstracts and Images (schematics) of U.S. Patents Number 5,860,783 and Number 6,077,011. We mentioned a theoretical, and pointless, application of these systems in one of last week’s commentaries, but the primary purpose of these systems is to introduce much needed efficiencies in container ship operations.

In spite of the blabber about megaships and “economies of scale”, none of the promised savings are passed down to the consumer. In fact, the opposite is true. As these vessels get larger and larger, consumers pay more and more. And the carriers are paying more as well. These white elephants, as the late Tommy Stramer dubbed them, have become the SUVs of the maritime industry.

Bigger isn’t better … bigger is just expensive and wasteful. Efficiency is what counts, and the lack of efficiency in shipboard operations has led to cost increases for consumers and profit reductions for carriers. Is that what they meant when they were touting “Economies of scale”?

[Today it’s Vessel Sharing Agreements and speed reduction … tomorrow it’s moth-balls.]