APL taking delivery of the worlds first ocean-capable 53-ft containers

by Canadian Shipper

SINGAPORE — Container shipper APL has announced its latest innovation: 53-ft ocean containers that could significantly alter the US import market.

The Singapore-based carrier said it will take delivery of the worlds first ocean-capable 53-ft boxes Nov. 7. The first units will be deployed as a weekly service on APLs premier South China to Los Angeles service.

The creator of outsize containers in the 1980s, APL said its latest innovation premium big-box service on a regular, weekly basis – has the potential to make a significant difference to the economics of Transpacific trade.

Our objective is to move big-box economics farther back in the supply chain to the point where products are manufactured in Asia, said Ron Widdows, CEO of APL. Were responding to customers who want new levels of efficiency in their containerized trade.

The 53-ft container has become fundamental to domestic intermodal transportation in the US. But to date, other than for occasional cargo lifts when repositioning new containers from Asia to the US, 53-ft boxes havent been strong enough to endure the rigours of ocean transport. Instead, importers ship cargo to the US West Coast in 20-, 40- or 45-ft boxes, then trans-load or transfer their shipments to 53-ft containers at US ports for truck or rail transport to the final destination.

APL is looking to change all of that. The new, reinforced 53-foot boxes are built specifically for international trade and designed to withstand ocean voyages. That means cargo can now be transported from factories in Asia all the way to US store doors without trans-loading.

According to APL, 53-ft containers could become the transport method of choice for customers moving cargo to inland US destinations. The bigger boxes have 60% more capacity than standard 40-ft containers. Theyre 9-ft 6 high and 102 six inches wider than standard boxes. That extra space enables shippers to consolidate more cargo into fewer containers.

In the challenging, congested business environment we face today, with enormous escalation in rail and other inland transportation charges, our customers primary drivers are speed, predictability and cost effectiveness, said Bob Sappio, APLs senior vice-president for the Transpacific Trade. Sappio added that APLs new 53-ft ocean containers will address three critical global trade issues: cost, supply chain congestion and the environment.

APL has concluded pilot tests of 53-ft ocean containers with key US retailers. The successful trials led to the decision to order the big boxes for immediate use with select customers.

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