How will inland ports play a role in the Post-Panamax era?

How will inland ports play a role in the Post-Panamax era?

Last month Power Pool Plus attended the AAPA XXII Latin American Conference of Ports in Bogota, Colombia.  This event was well represented across the shipping industry.  Much was discussed and debated in regards to the challenges that Post-Panamax sized ships will have on the shipping industry and more specifically the ports themselves.

While much conversation on this topic centered around what developments a port will need to do in order to handle the incredible increase in traffic flow from these new ships, one presentation stood out that clearly identified a need that has not been as predominantly discussed – inland ports.

How will inland ports play a role in the Post-Panamax era?

Port facilities are under increased pressure to expand the capacity of their yards in order to accommodate the higher container traffic from larger Post-Panamax ships. This topic was discussed at last month’s AAPA Latin American Congress of Ports as it pertains to port facilities in South and Central America. And like at any shipping industry meeting, the talk regarding the effects that these larger ships will have on ports and terminals has largely centered on the ports themselves. Topics always seem to include; larger crane equipment needed to handle the higher and wider ships, adequate depth of port waters, fuel cost analysis, capacity evaluations, and throughput considerations among others. However, what about other collateral issues and the affect that this new influx of containers will have on the supply chain?

Land Space is Key

With all of the talk about equipment upgrades there seems to be little conversation about the space required to effectively move containers once they arrive in port. Do today’s existing ports have the land space necessary to handle container ships that are nearly twice the size of what they currently see?

At this conference it was reported that in order to properly support an 8000TEU ship, a port facility needs approximately 100 acres of very valuable land in order to properly handle and distribute the load. The arrival of any Post-Panamax sized ship can easily overwhelm a port container yard. It has become necessary to expand the land area in which a port operates in order to accommodate this increased flow. Available space, however, is a commodity that few ports can enjoy. Even if more coastal land is available, the high cost of this valuable real estate can make expansion too costly.

Additionally, the shear costs of many of these infrastructure upgrades could exhaust the resources of traditional funding methods historically used to fund port expansion efforts. Ports must get the most out of each acre of land used in order to be profitable.

The Inland Port Option

Perhaps now is the time to look into the viability of inland ports as an option to move cargo quickly through a port. Located far from the coastal areas that they serve where land is plentiful and less expensive, inland ports enable a coastal port to handle increased container traffic more efficiently. They can aid in the distribution of dry goods containers or the storage of empty ones. As the flow of containerized shipping continues to increase with the addition of larger and larger ships, these inland ports will play a more significant role in the distribution of cargo.

For instance, at nearly 75 miles and 2 states away, the Port of New York and New Jersey is considering utilizing an existing rail yard on the former Bethlehem Steel property in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for such an inland port. Transportation distribution facilities are already starting to gravitate to locations like these as these intermodal facilities become hubs for the shipment of goods – a logical extension of the coastal port itself.

Room for Refrigerated Cargo

But what about the profitable and ever increasing shipment of refrigerated containers? Inland ports can play a vital role in the distribution of perishable cargo as well. As with coastal ports however, the investment cost to support refrigerated containers can be significant due to the installation of proper electrical substations and the laying of adequate ground power. The question becomes will providers be willing to invest in this infrastructure at a time when inland port strategies are still being defined?

Power Pool Plus can enable a port operator the flexibility to rapidly deploy a temporary power solution to support any inland port reefer yard. Beyond the power pack, Power Pool Plus’s mobile reefer yard solutions are designed to support 100-500 plug installations, which can literally be rolled out overnight! Our cost effective and purpose built designs can play a pivotal role to shippers interested in pursuing the lucrative refrigerated and frozen cargo markets – even in places where adequate power infrastructure does not exist.

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Power Pool Plus

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