It was great to join the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival yesterday, presenting at the Innovation in Action event to explain the importance of the work we are doing at BLOK Container Systems helping to make ports and specifically shipping container terminals faster, safer, more sustainable and creating benefits for shipping lines.
World trade depends on shipping containers. Around 90 per cent of world trade is by sea and two thirds (60%) is in shipping containers. Container trade is worth $12 trillion. But as trade continues to grow and the size of ships increases turnaround times at ports has slowed.
Shipping is the most environmentally friendly way to move goods on a tonne per mile basis which if indexed shows shipping as 1, rail as 1.6, road transport x10 and air freight x 47. But shipping does need to reduce emissions as it contributes 2% to world Co2 and 9% of Sulphur emissions. The United Nations in the form of the International Maritime Organisation has tasked the industry with reducing Co2 emissions by 50% and most importantly capping sulphur emissions at 0.5 per cent next year, down from 3.5%.
As shipping meets these challenges ports and terminals need to lead the way as that is where most of the changes will have to take place. BLOK’s contribution is to provide new equipment and systems which can free up time for ‘slower sailing’. Sailing 10% slower can save as much as 30% of fuel and emissions. BLOK is pioneering multiple shipping container loading and unloading to maximise crane efficiency, automated twistlock fitting and removal (the connectors which link containers together for safe transit) and special container trailers.
BLOK has created an autonomous BLOK Spreader which moves two or four containers at a time increasing the pace of loading and unloading by two or four times. A BLOK Rig which automatically fits and removes twistlocks four at a time and replaces one of the slowest and most dangerous activities on the quayside and is much safer for terminal staff. The BLOK Trailers which can be 20 or 40 foot long enables carrying four containers with one vehicle. It reduces vehicles and emissions at the quayside and improves the speed of container movements.
BLOK has benefitted from the centre of engineering excellence in and around Coventry and the West Midlands as well as the amazing support networks that are available for engineering and technology businesses. In particular, the Growth Hub, Coventry Council and the European Regional Development Fund, Warwick and Coventry Universities, the Warwick Manufacturing Group WMG, the Manufacturing Technology Centre MTC and the regional Department of International Trade. We have made rapid progress through association with a leading UK port allowing agile working and rapid iteration of product development. As a result, we now have interest from ports in Europe, Finland, Middle East, Africa, China, South East Asia, Australia and North America.