It's common knowledge that ocean carriers and airlines took ships and aircraft out of service during the recession in an effort to reduce excess capacity and prop up rates. But now that business is picking up, they can just crank up the engines and get those ships and airplanes back in service, right?
Apparently not. Even equipment that has been carefully maintained while "on vacation" still needs extensive preparation before it can start plying the sea lanes or flying the friendly skies.
Dozens of large freighter aircraft, each able to carry payloads in excess of 80 metric tons, currently are parked in the desert, says David Hoppin, an independent transportation and logistics consultant and strategist. Although the dry desert air cuts down on the risk of metal corrosion, the aircraft still require protection from the elements, and they must pass stringent safety inspections before they can be certified to fly again. Not all will make it out of the so-called airplane "boneyards." It won't make economic sense to reactivate some of them due to their age (and thus relative inefficiency) and/or the cost of maintenance work required to return them to service, Hoppin says.
Ships kept in "hot" lay-up, with most of their equipment running, typically can return to service in about 24 hours. But those that are stored "cold"—with their electrical and mechanical systems shut down—require three or more weeks before they can be recommissioned, according to Russ Brown, global business development manager with Munters Moisture Control Services. Moisture, condensation, mold, and corrosion are all hazards for mothballed ships, he says. Carriers often use desiccant dehumidification equipment in enclosed areas of the ship to bring relative humidity down to 50 percent or less, Brown wrote in an article on how to combat those problems.