• Shipping hubs


    Shipping hubs and container feeder vessels are becoming increasingly important as the shipping industry evolves to meet the demands of globalization and the proportion of bigger vessels in world fleets is growing. Already some vessels can carry as many as 11,000-plus 14,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) and the Danish Maersk Line announced early 2011 having aplaced orders for ten of a new ‘Triple E’ class of container vessel that will carry 18,000 TEU. These ships will be longer and wider than anything ever built before but it is stated that their revolutionary design and propulsion systems would considerably reduce costs and cut CO2 emissions per container carried. Of course this latter aspect fits well with the increasing interest in ‘Green supply chain management’. nd forecasts (end 2007) are that still larger vessels may become operational in the foreseeable future. Sbut of course such mega-vessels will call only at ports with the required deep water and offering both the cargo and the mechanized capability to handle it quickly and efficiently.

    Smaller ports therefore increasingly feed cargo to the nearest regional hub, in rather the same way as airlines have been doing for years. In some origins (e.g. Viet Nam, Indonesia) this practice is already well established but elsewhere it is creating some problems for the industry.

    It is not uncommon for receivers of coffee to have proper advice of shipment, within contract terms, but still not know the name of the vessel that will deliver at the final port of discharge because the name of the transhipment vessel is not always known at time of loading.

    Internet-based track and trace services offer solutions provided the shipping advice includes the container numbers (which shippers are obliged to provide in the shipment advice). Larger receivers working on the just-in-time supply system require carriers to inform them direct by email, within a given time limit, of all transhipment arrangements including the name of the mainline vessel and its estimated time of arrival (ETA) at destination. See also topic 05.01.09 on transhipment issues. 

    Not immediately obvious perhaps, but other issues can arise when authorities in a transhipment port impose certain conditions on cargo that is to be transhipped there.

    For example, in late 2006 Panama directed that any vents on containers carrying green coffee for transhipment in Panamanian ports (Balbao and Manzanillo) must be hermetically closed and, must be accompanied by a phyto-sanitary certificate. This is to safeguard against Broca (borer) infestation being transmitted from other coffee producing countries. Non-compliance means a container will not be allowed to be discharged for onward shipment, a potential cause of considerable logistical and financial problems.

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