New and very much larger container vessels are continuing to be introduced on the world’s main shipping routes to increase efficiency and to bring down costs. But this also requires faster ship handling in ports, to gain all the benefits of this huge investment. Currently, the industry standard procedure for port expansion is to extend berth lengths with straight line additions and ever larger cantilever cranes. However, this approach is not efficient because the crane trolleys have to move faster just to unload at the same rate as before now reaching to containers across the wider ship. Already speeds of movement within modern cranes are at levels that make it difficult to achieve any increase. Extremely long line of ship berths are themselves inefficient in terms of traffic management and, depending on the location, can be environmentally damaging. Ports have simply grown by evolution into much larger versions of the same concept and have now been left behind in the challenge to provide a more efficient, faster and more environmentally friendly link in the supply chain.
COFASTRANS is an overall concept to enable faster loading and unloading of ships in container ports. This is much needed in order to maximise the benefits of deploying the new generation of much larger container vessels. Although handling systems in container terminal are advancing rapidly, especially through automatic computerised systems, this is all still based on berth layouts that have not significantly changed since the start of containerised ocean transportation in the 1960s.