White Paper: Impact of the Drive for the Economies of Scale on Container Terminals


Click here to download the white paper:  Economies of Scale in Container Ships and Terminals  

Shipping cargo has always been a highly cyclical business with highly profitable years interspersed with large losses. As international cargo companies seek to limit this risk, through economies of scale and forging alliances, their efforts are having a downwind effect on the ports and terminals at which they call. External factors like the expansion of the Panama and Suez Canals, and the economic downturn of the Great Recession have also changed the nature of cargo container shipping generally and transshipment specifically.

With approximately 90% of goods travelling by water at some point in their journey between manufacturing and retail, even small changes in the supply chain can cause wide sweeping effects across the network. In particular, the ever growing size of container vessels requires container terminals to update their facilities in order to remain competitive in the market. Deeper berths and channels, taller cranes with longer reach, and faster unloading and reloading times are just a few of the modernizations needed to address the requirements of Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS). As the main shipping routes adopt +18,000TEU vessels, the +8,000TEU that previously served these markets move to so-called secondary shipping lanes, thus cascading the needed modernizations along with the bigger ships.

In this white paper, Steve Wray, Associate Director – Maritime, WSP in the UK, outlines the various factors at play in the modern container shipping market, what is happening amongst the shipping companies and their alliances, and what that means for the ports and container terminals that need to adjust to coming changes. Topics covered include:

  • Recent History of Large Vessels
  • Consolidation in the Shipping Industry
  • Effect on Container Terminal Requirements
  • What Happens Next

Click here to download the white paper:  Economies of Scale in Container Ships and Terminals 


About the Author

Steve Wray has been Associate Director - Maritime at WSP in the UK since July 2016, responsible for maritime consultancy on a global basis. He has extensive experience in shipping, port and development projects, primarily gained whilst working at Ocean Shipping Consultants, a premier name in the consultancy field. Since joining the firm in 2007, he has produced numerous containerisation and other studies, particularly in the African, Caribbean, Central America, Mediterranean, Black Sea and Baltic regions. 

He is also a regular contributor on the conference circuit having given papers at conferences held in Accra, Odessa, Bilbao, Gdansk, Szczecin, Rostock, Tallinn, Riga, St. Petersburg, Klaipeda, Istanbul, Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, Bremerhaven, Doha, Maputo, Durban and Antananarivo on a variety of topics related to changes within the shipping industry and forecast predictions for the future developments. 

Before being recruited by OSC, he worked for more than 19 years with liner shipping companies P&O Containers, P&O Nedlloyd and Maersk Line. He has an intimate understanding of the perspective of the port users to analyses in this sector and first-hand experience of the North European and Mediterranean/Black Sea container feeder markets, as well as Transatlantic, Transpacific and African deepsea trades.