The need for better transportation and delivery in the United States is increasing rapidly. The growing population, and increased interest in on line shopping has put a strain on current infrastructure. The average American requires movement of 57 tons of cargo per year. These needs will undoubtedly expand in the future, requiring radical infrastructure changes.
Why are Americans using more shipped goods? The average American probably doesn’t realize how many of their daily products come from different states, different countries. Starting with breakfast, the eggs may come from 100 miles away. The utensils to cook them may come from Germany and the toaster from China. Fruit may come from Mexico, New Zealand, or California and coffee from Ethiopia. We are truly a global society.
So besides more container vessels, what else do we need to keep up this pace? Also needed are wider roads, more ships, more trucks, deeper/wider ports, rails, and better organization. Add to this the challenges of a nearly 20% population increase by 2040, and the expectation of faster delivery times – how are we going to manage this?
An easy answer is bigger ships. Drawbacks are clear with fewer calls to port, longer times between shipments, less efficiency and limited ports that can accommodate them. Couple this with the congestion associated with getting the containers out of the port. So is the future all about bigger? Probably not. The answer is speed. This can be accomplished with more efficient systems, conversions to electric cranes from diesel, and more efficient rack systems. Intermodal efficiency saves time by combining rail and freight. Increased efficiency seems to win out with creative solutions.