Ocean Freight Rates from China to US Have Tripled Compared To Last Year
Due to current backlogs as a result of the pandemic, space on container ships from Asia to the US is extremely tight and rates have gone through the roof. Booking space is even more problematic and could easily take 4-6 weeks to get a booking. As a result of the high demand and tight space, eastbound transpacific ocean freight rates are now more than 3 times higher than the same period last year.
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Transporting Railcars And Railroad Tampers By Sea
Railcars and railroad construction cars are shipped internationally on several types of ships such as breakbulk carriers, RO/RO carriers and containerships. Breakbulk ships lift the railcars from the pier into the hold with ship’s onboard gear. RO/RO carriers load the equipment on rolling mafi platforms that get towed into the hold via the ships massive ramp. Containerships utilize flat rack containers which are containers with no sides and no roof, designed to carry oversized equipment. The loaded flat racks are lifted on board ships with dockside gantry cranes. Lifting and securing these heavy units is planned with the use of engineering drawings that take into account center of gravity, lifting angles and lashing points. The upcoming Texas and California high speed rail projects will involve these types of shipments.
(Photo credit: ocean_network_express via Instagram: “Special cargo shipment from Europe to Japan”)
Airbus Aims To Be First To Market With Zero-Emissions Aircraft
European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has developed several concept designs for zero-emission commercial aircraft powered by hydrogen. The concept designs are codenamed ZEROe. According to IATA, commercial aircraft produce up to 3 percent of worldwide carbon emissions. The industry has set ambitious goals to reduce the impact of commercial aviation on climate change such as a 50% reduction of carbon emissions by 2050. The zero-emission aircraft are likely to revolutionize the air transport industry.
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Aircraft Fuselages Are Shipped By Rail In An Unusual Combination Of Transport Modes
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A unique combination of transport modes was captured on video in a way you wouldn’t expect when Boeing 737 MAX aircraft fuselages were filmed during transport by rail through a narrow railroad tunnel. Although the video may seem to show something that can’t possibly be right, it is all too real.
The fuselages are manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas. Transporting such large pieces of equipment presents a challenge due to height and width limits for over-the-road transport. Due to their dimensions, they must be transported by rail without the wings attached, as the fuselages alone are too long to be transported over the road from the factory in Kansas to Boeing’s assembly facility in Washington State. The fuselages are meticulously prepped for shipment on railcars to ensure sufficient clearance through tunnels.
On June 4, 2020 Spirit AeroSystems was directed by Boeing to stop production on four 737 MAX shipsets and avoid starting production on sixteen more units for delivery in 2020 due to COVID-19’s impact on air travel in an effort to reduce unnecessary production costs. Spirit’s production was subsequently lowered from 125 units to 72 units for 2020. As of September 2020, CEO Tom Gentile said Spirit expects to be back to 10 aircraft per month on the 737 in January.
That is good news for Boeing, the passenger airline industry and the air cargo industry. Of course railroad executives will be very happy to resume shipments of this special cargo. The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal crashes.
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Sky High Ocean Freight Rates From Asia Attract Government Scrutiny
Ocean carriers have been skipping sailings to shore up their bottom line during the virus-induced downturn in manufacturing and consumer demand. Tactical blank sailings combined with record breaking rate spikes in the trans-Pacific trade have increased carrier profitability now that manufacturing and demand are coming back online. Decreased capacity and increased rates are helping ocean carriers recover at the expense of the global economy while suppliers struggle to meet pent up consumer demand. Government regulators have begun to exert pressure on ocean carriers to restore capacity and restrict rate increases. It has been customary to blank sailings during the Chinese Golden Week holiday, however the threat of intervention will surely impact carrier cost manipulations and capacity decisions.
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(Photo credit: OOCL)
The Largest Energy Project In Canadian History Requires Import Of 1 Million Tons Of Oversized Construction Equipment
Shipments of massive excavators for the $40 billion LNG Canada energy project are shipped on board roll on/roll off ships to the Port of Tacoma, Washington. The equipment is driven on and off the ships via an enormous ramp with under-deck access. After arrival in Tacoma, they are hauled to Kitimat, BC for construction of the LNG facility and a 420 mile pipeline. The removable goose-neck trailers are fitted with 7 to 9 axles because transport is restricted to 34,000 lbs per axle most of the year. In snow and freeze/thaw conditions, the trailers are upgraded to 10-12 axles to redistribute the weight of the heaviest equipment.
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(Image: Spruce Hollow Heavy Haul moves an excavator from Port of Tacoma to Kitimat, BC, on a 9-axle rig. Photo credit: Spruce Hollow Heavy Haul.)
Airlines Retrofit Passenger Aircraft To Handle Cargo
Cathay Pacific supplements their cargo capacity and cuts some of their losses related to the pandemic by removing economy seats from Boeing 777 planes to transport more medical supplies, PPE and other critical shipments. They are required to keep the front and rear seat rows in place to protect the aircraft from cargo that could shift due to turbulence. Cargo is placed in fire-retardant bags because passenger cabins aren’t equipped with fire-suppression systems. The airline follows in the footsteps of Air Canada and Lufthansa who have reconfigured some passenger planes for cargo.
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(Image Credit: Cathay Pacific)
Drone Delivery System Aims to Make Mid-Size Retail Chains Competitive With E-Commerce Giants
Deuce Drone announced a test of their last mile delivery system which is intended to make delivery directly from stores to consumers faster and more affordable. Rouses Market, which operates 64 grocery stores in the south, has partnered with Deuce Drone to test a same day delivery system by drones in order to make last mile delivery faster and less costly than vans, so they can compete with Amazon.
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(Image courtesy of: Commercial Drone Professional of Deuce Drone)
New Drone System Developed For Long Distance Delivery
Civil drone operators are currently restricted to line-of-sight operation of one drone at a time to avoid collisions. Satellite operator, Inmarsat Group Holdings, has partnered with Altitude Angel LTD to operate drones over long distances safely by integrating a backup satellite connection for areas with no land-based communications . If they can prove safe operation to regulators, fleets of remotely operated drones could be deployed to transport tons of goods. Read more about this development at:
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(Photo Credit: Chip Chipman/Bloomberg News)
Drone Manufacturer Asks FAA To Approve Unmanned Medical Supply Flights In Response To Pandemic
Zipline is offering to setup a drone-based supply chain across the US for distribution of emergency supplies such as medicine, PPE gear, test kits and even blood to ease supply chain blockages. The drones are launched by catapult and recovered by an arrestor system. The company has been operating the drones to deliver emergency medical supplies to remote locations in Africa for several years. Medical supplies are dropped by parachute to healthcare workers and rushed to areas suffering severe shortages.
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(Photo credit: From Zipline via AOPA: