Continued from previous pageHowever, Davidson said, “the projection for 2019 is highly uncertain due to the U.S.-China tariff wars, Brexit, etc. So there is a big caveat.”
He expects continued caution by terminal operators and other investors “because returns are not what they used to be. Even Chinese players may be affected if China’s economy slows markedly.
“Greenfield expansion projects will be the area hardest hit. Nevertheless, a global capacity addition of over 25 million TEU can be expected in 2019, representing a spend of $7.5 billion,” he said.
Terminals have had to invest in recent years to accommodate the growing size of ships. Some terminals have extended berths, others have replaced, added or rebuilt cranes so they are higher or have longer reach. Others have added equipment or made improvements in the yards behind the quays.
Davidson said, “The good news for the industry is that there will be no significant increase in maximum containership size (maximum TEU intake is going up but physical dimensions are not). However, cascading will still be very much at work across all trade routes, and each port will see increasing pressure on whichever berths are able to handle the biggest ships (and increased obsolescence of older berths).”
For example, last summer four ship-to-shore cranes at SSA Marine’s terminal in the Port of Oakland were raised 27 feet so they could reach higher and work the larger ships being positioned into the transpacific trade. (This video that shows how that was done.)
Davdson also expects new technologies such as “digitization/automation/blockchain/smart ports/IoT/hyperloop”(the list goes on) will continue to be vigorously explored by both terminal operators and port authorities” as they seek to find which ones “really work and what has the best potential.”
He also says “terminal operators and port authorities will continue to seek to expand their activities beyond the port gate into the wider supply chain,” but notes “it’s a crowded field, with the heavyweight liner shipping companies aiming to do the same thing.”
Click here to see video.