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Shipping Lines face huge pressure to manage costs and meet the demanding requirements of the sulphur cap taking effect in 2020 and halving CO2 emissions by 2050. 
 
As has been demonstrated in previous times of oil crisis, speed reduction can have a substantial impact on both fuel use and emissions. Unfortunately, speed reduction unless balanced within the system causes delays, while alternative fuels and changing ship design add to costs. 
 
Whatever final solutions emerge for shipping lines it is clear that activity in ports and container terminals will play a major part to improved turn-around times and enable ships to meet fuel conservation timetables. 
 
With that in mind, it is very encouraging to see that some terminals are taking the initiative and getting ahead of the game. 
 
The team at APM Terminals Gothenburg should receive considerable credit for working tirelessly to ensure that vessels arriving late still leave the port on time to be able to maintain optimal speed and to help protect the planet. 
 
APM observed that many of the vessels arriving at the port of Gothenburg arrived later than agreed time windows. In order to arrive on time to the next port, vessels would need to increase their speed and thus fuel consumption. A simple rule of thumb is that vessels that need to run 10% faster to recover lost time increase fuel consumption and thus emissions by 20%, according to a report by CE Delft. 
 
In order to avoid this and minimize environmental impact the team took steps to ensure that the vessels arriving late, still departed within the appointed time. The latest survey they say, showed that 22% of vessels arrived later than agreed, but despite this 96% of the vessels leave the port within the stipulated time, or even earlier. 
 
It is clear that where possible all container terminals should strive for a similar result and equipment providers will rise to the challenge. 
 
BLOK Container Systems for example, has a number of products that offer busy container terminals the opportunity for increased crane and quayside productivity to reduce the, all important, turnaround times. 
 
 
 
Specifically, BLOK Spreader adaptors that double the productivity of single spreaders handling empties two at a time (or with the introduction of BLOK Cert four at a time). BLOK Rigs which automate and speed up SAT twistlock fitting and removal for both empty and laden containers. Finally, special wide BLOK Trailers which carry two laden or four empty containers with one vehicle to clear the quayside of containers faster and more efficiently than either single trailers or straddle carriers. 
 
These and other initiatives will give terminals the tools they need to meet the quicker turnaround challenge helping shipping lines save fuel and emissions and giving themselves a competitive advantage in the process. 
 
The next year 2020 is set to be an exciting one for BLOK Container Systems as our equipment progresses from quayside trials and recent ship activity to sustained use trials loading and unloading at a London container terminal. 
 
The planned activity uses the BLOK Spreader to double the speed of loading and unloading empty containers and the BLOK Rigs to fit and remove semi-automatic twistlocks (SATS) which connect both empty and laden containers for safe transit on board ship. A pair of containers in horizontal tandem lift (side by side) uses two BLOK Rigs side by side to fit or remove eight SATS simultaneously. Laden containers will be handled singly with individual BLOK Rigs fitting or removing four SATs at a time. 
 
Both the BLOK Spreaders and BLOK Rigs boost efficiency and offer considerable time savings. Using the Rigs also has safety advantages for quayside operatives replacing the need for the manual fitting and removal of SATS from containers. 
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. 
BLOK Container Systems is unveiling a comprehensive range of equipment for multiple handling at TOC Europe 2019.The range is designed to deliver and maintain the benefits of faster loading and unloading throughout the handling process by saving time, equipment and emissions. The product range includes: BLOK Spreaders, BLOK Trailers, BLOK Rigs and BLOK Cert, a certification system for Vertical Tandem Lifting. 
 
BLOK Spreaders are autonomous, lightweight adaptors for single or twin lift STS spreaders that facilitate lifting two containers side by side, Horizontal Tandem Lifting (HTL) or four containers in two columns of Vertical Tandem Lift (VTL). The electro-hydraulic spreaders fit and remove in seconds, are cell guide and hatch cover compatible and have an infinitely adjustable tandem separating distance up to 1600mm which is compatible for use with straddle carriers. 
 
BLOK Trailers are double width Trailers which allow a single tug tractor to transport up to 8 teu ant once for efficient transfer of containers around the quayside. The BLOK Trailer is perfectly suited to tandem lifting operations since it receives and feeds containers in perfect alignment for the lift and allows maximum efficiency for STS cranes. 
 
BLOK Rigs are semi-automatic lashing platforms for safe and efficient fitting and removal of twistlocks (SATs). BLOK Rigs can be deployed under the STS crane or elsewhere on in the yard and can be used for building up VTL units. With BLOK Cert, BLOK Rigs can be used for proof testing VTL units. BLOK Rigs, when used with BLOK Spreaders and BLOK Trailers can increase container handling speed by up to four times.. 
 
BLOK Cert is a patent applied for system for certifying that a pair of empty containers together with their four SAT twistlocks can be lifted in Vertical Tandem Lift (VTL) by STS cranes safely. Once provided the BLOK Cert is held on the Shipping Line Stowage System and the receiving port Terminal Operating System so that empty containers can be safely and confidently lifted in VTL in the knowledge that they have been proof tested, inspected and certified for safe operation. 
 
 
 
 
We are pioneering new multiple container handling systems which are the key to faster processes and reduced emissions. 
Our purpose is to make a major contribution to improving the productivity of container terminals and shipping lines resulting in: 
 Faster vessel turn around 
 Empty and laden containers managed more efficiently 
 Reduced vehicle and crane movements 
 Lower emissions and increased sustainability 
 Improved safety on the quayside 
Work with us and we can help you take containerisation to the next level. 
 
For more information email - selwyn.rowley@blokcontainersystems.com 
 
A ground-breaking piece of equipment which could save the maritime industry billions of dollars is being launched by a BLOK Container Systems. 
 
BLOK Container Systems’ new BLOK Spreader enables four empty shipping containers to be lifted and transported on to quaysides as a single block, potentially easing congestion in container ports all over the world, as well as reducing emissions and saving billions across the industry... 
 
It was excellent to have the opportunity this week to make a presentation at the International Maritime Organisation, the specialist agency of the United Nations, responsible for the regulation of shipping. 
 
The opportunity was facilitated by The International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA) which has been extremely supportive and has already publicised the activities of the Coventry University and BLOK Container Systems research team. 
The presentation was the culmination of a three month BLOK Container Systems research project in association with Coventry University, looking at how initiatives to handle shipping containers in ports more quickly and efficiently can make a major contribution to reducing emissions globally. 
 
 
With the news that IMO has set a target of halving shipping carbon emissions by 2050, the heat is on everyone in the chain to do more to make the process of international trade cleaner. 
 
It is inevitable that the pressure for ports to up their game in reducing emissions and energy use will also continue to intensify. 
 
Listening to the discussions at an ICHCA seminar at The Hague last week (hosted by APM Terminals) it is clear that the significant pressure on ports to become greener is not just coming from lobbyists and industry opinion formers. 
 
Influential pressure is coming from customers needing to support their own consumer propositions with a reduced carbon footprint. Massive players such as Google, Amazon and Apple are setting the agenda by influencing their whole supply chain to meet green targets. 
 
Such issues obviously have the attention of forward-looking terminal operators and this will gain further impetus when the choice of terminal starts to be based on the ability to meet this customer need. 
 
BLOK Container Systems is clearly aware of these industry drivers and has created a fundamentally more efficient, cleaner and safer method of container handling. 
 
Supermarkets have for a long time demonstrated that containers such as beer cans are much easier to handle in multipacks so the question is why are most shipping containers still handled singly? 
 
Trailers initially conceived for BLOKs of 4 or 8 empty containers may now be the key to the quicker use of tandem lift spreaders moving laden containers at terminals around the world. 
 
The combination will be of great assistance to terminals faced with the challenge of loading and unloading bigger ships faster and more efficiently, said Selwyn Rowley of Director of Sales and Marketing for Blok Container Systems. 
 
Use of the BLOK Trailer overcomes several current issues for terminals seeking the efficiencies promised by equipment that can lift multiple laden and empty containers but then has to use up valuable time trying to align the load with individual container trailers. In November last year at the QSOE demonstration of the BLOK Container System, Hutchison told us that their Tandem Lift spreaders do not gain the time savings they should because of inaccurate trailer alignment, which the BLOK Trailer will now overcome. 
 
The new system also helps to address safety concerns. If the laden containers or indeed empty containers have come from the deck, then they will also have projecting down from their bottom castings , four twistlocks each which are currently often removed manually whilst the crane dangles the containers in the air. 
 
The BLOK Trailers transport laden containers in accurate alignment with the crane so that the tandem lift spreaders can pick them up quickly or lower them down quickly on to the trailer together. 
 
No twistlock feeders are needed on the quay or indeed at all because the BLOK Trailer includes twistlock feeding at each container casting position. The twistlocks are pre-fitted or removed off quay making the operation safer and quicker. Then there is the potential to lower a second couple of containers onto the trailer so that four, laden 40fts or 8 laden 20fts can be transported along the quay with one tractor unit. Empty or laden containers can be mixed with the laden containers on the lower level. After off- loading one pair of containers the trailers can be driven along the quay to a second crane for loading the second pair. 
 
The new trailers are patent applied for and currently under construction and trials at Singamas QSOE in Shanghai, China and will be available to purchase later this year. 
 
BLOK Container Systems is sponsoring TECH TOC as it seeks to bring efficiency solutions to terminals and shipping lines around the world. 
 
If you want to hear about ideas being developed to improve port productivity and achieve operational excellence you should come and see us on the opening day of TOC Europe, Amsterdam June 27th, Tuesday afternoon at 12.15pm to 2.15pm 
 
In addition to our innovative system for handling empty containers which alone could save the industry $1.5 billion, we offer great potential for partnership with tandem lifting equipment suppliers for speeding the process of unloading and loading full containers using innovative trailers and twistlock developments, which could be an industry game changer and speed up universal acceptance of multiple container unloading and loading. 
 
We will be teasing some of the innovative solutions we have in the pipeline, in the run up to TECH TOC and will be very happy to receive contacts from spreader and twistlock manufacturers who would like further insight into the possibilities we are creating and may be interested in partnering. Likewise, we will be very pleased to talk to terminal operators and shipping lines that may be experiencing problematic peaks and troughs, or disappointing terminal turnaround times that our innovations could help solve. Finally, we would be interested to talk to developers of new ports or terminals, as planning with some of our innovations in mind will result in world leading implementation and considerable competitive advantage over existing systems
 
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