All you importers out there who are wondering how you're going to bring more shipments into the country through an already overtaxed transportation system, listen up: APL thinks it has a solution.
The Singapore-based container carrier last month took delivery of what it said were the world's first "ocean-capable" 53-foot containers. The reinforced boxes, which feature 60 percent more capacity than standard 40-foot containers, are built specifically for international trade.
Right now, importers often ship goods from Asia to the West Coast in 20-, 40-, or 45-foot boxes, and then transload cargo to 53-foot domestic (and unseaworthy) containers for truck or rail delivery to the final destination.
The new containers will be able to carry cargo from factories in Asia all the way to retail stores, no transloading required. The economic advantage seems clear enough: Two 53-foot containers hold the contents of three 40-footers, plus shippers can avoid transloading expenses. APL also says that fewer, larger containers will lead to reductions in truck and rail moves, port and highway congestion, and air pollution.
The first units will be deployed in APL's weekly service between South China and Los Angeles. A weekly big-box service like that will no doubt appeal to large retail chains. APL CEO Ron Widdows says he's definitely on board with that: "Our objective is to move big-box economics farther back in the supply chain to the point where products are manufactured in Asia," he says.