Where is International Shipping Headed?
Posted on November 11, 2013
Like all sectors of the global economy, the shipping industry was severely affected by the worldwide financial crisis that started in 2008. Weak consumer demand led to decreasing shipping volumes, driving prices higher, which in turn fed higher prices to consumer, further affecting demand, in a proverbial vicious circle.
However, the buds of recovery were first seen throughout the industry in 2010, and have been confirmed since then. Shipping is expected to continue growing and the outlook for the industry is positive, as evidenced by companies' investments in their vessels and long-term strategies, and governments improving their ports' infrastructures.
Companies have been transforming the structure of their fleet, with a clear trend towards much bigger ships, such as Moller-Maersk’s ‘supership’ launched in June 2013, the biggest in commercial shipping so far. Dubbed ‘Triple-E’ for Energy efficiency, Environmentally friendly and Economies of scale, these superships are alleged to use 35% fuel less, reducing shipping costs considerably.
In response to this gigantism, port authorities all over the world have been upgrading their dockyards to accommodate them, as well as modernising their infrastructure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and supplying more efficient equipment such as new cranes with greater vertical clearance and outreach.
Ship building has also seen many technical changes over the last few decades, even more so over the last few years. Propellers are more efficient, reducing fuel consumption, and designs have been optimised through the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools and model testing, resulting in better shaft alignment for example.
With 90% of all goods carried by sea, commercial maritime shipping has a crucial role to play in the worldwide economy, and its continued innovation will allow it to adapt to consumer demand and remain competitive against other form of transportation.
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