Here’s an innovation that’s going to be popular at container terminals. It’s a fixed set of frames allowing containers to be stacked in individual pigeonholes. They’re placed and removed by stacker cranes running through the aisles. The system has been in development and testing since 2018.
Hardware innovations take a long time to develop, and they require a place for testing. The partnership of DP World and SMS Group, a German firm, combined the expertise and the need and test bed to create the product.
Stacking density may be improved up to 4 times using the Boxbay system.
This is not a new idea. Auto manufacturers and shippers have been using such arrays to store cars since the 90’s. I was shown a picture of one in Japan by Ernest Konigsberg, a Berkeley operations research professor who was familiar with the design and the optimizing software written to decide which locations to place vehicles. We would call it AI today, but then it was simply optimization software. It’s been around a long time.
An interesting question is why this technology is only emerging now. One answer is the Great Congestion about the time of the COVID epidemic. Yard storage was a significant problem during the supply chain crisis. This kind of system can improve the utilization of scarce container yard land. It’s a natural type of tech to invest in.
I’m sure we will see more such systems if container shipping demand comes back and exceeds the congestion period levels. But if ports aren’t handling so many containers, they may not be so eager to invest in this technology. I don’t see the large US ports jumping on this so soon, with traffic falling.
The article has a nice picture of Pusan Newport terminal, and judging by the stacking disarray in the right part of the picture, they can use this system1
By Nick Savvides 08/03/2023DPW to deploy first Boxbay stacking system at Pusan Newport – The Loadstar