Using maritime transport and its related infrastructure as an example, discuss how the global transport system has been developed to meet the increasing demand of international movement of goods.
Maritime Transport Industry's Globalization
Transport is one of the critical components that facilitate the global economy. This is because it supports a wide range of movements from passengers to freight between different countries. The global economy is highly dependent on the movement of raw materials from the source country to where needed. Additionally, transport facilitates the import and exportation of finished goods. The affordability, diversification, and availability of goods in the global market depend highly on the capacity to transport them. For example, a digital camera manufactured in China passes through multiple stages in the transport system with modes such as trains, trucks, container ships, and air freights for it to reach the global market. The circulation of people and goods within the global economy is highly supported by the transport systems. The emergence of the global transport system is as old as trade itself. Transportation has always been there to support the activity of trade. The two functions are mutually dependent on each other. They exist under the symbiotic relationship. What has changed is not the purpose but the speed, efficiency, volume, and capacity. However, the global-oriented economic systems were first permitted under maritime transport. Maritime transport involves the movement of people and goods over water bodies such as oceans and seas. Critical infrastructures under this mode of transport include ports and harbors that facilitate docking of ships. Over the years, the maritime industry has seen critical developments in the ways of operations. This has shaped the international maritime trade patterns such as containerization and trade liberalization. Additionally, the private sector has also taken an interest in the shipping industry. The global connectivity, intensified manufacturing of goods, trade between nations as well as the extension in supply chains has seen a huge development in the maritime transportation system. This essay will address the critical development of global transport networks of the maritime industry.
The maritime industry is perhaps the most globalized form of transport. This mode of transport is dominated by heavy bulk cargo. In 2015, bulk cargo accounted for 70 percent of the ton in miles of goods shipped (Valentine, Benamara, and Hoffmann, 2013, pp.230). Traditionally, maritime transportation network encountered two problems in their operations. First, this mode of transportation was slow with the ship averaging the speed of 15 knots for cargo ships which is equivalent to 26 kilometers per hour (Talley, and Ng, 2013, pp.315). Another problem was that the ship encountered huge delays at the ports while loading and unloading. These problems constrained the ships from making rapid deliveries, especially on short distances. However, the industry has seen major technical innovation that has significantly improved global trade (Shi, and Li, 2017, pp.160). These improvements have been experienced in port operations and also better cargo couriers. There has been a significant growth in the number of ships and an increase in their size. A bigger size results to a higher capacity of the ship to carry more goods (Christiansen, et al., 2014, pp.190). For example, each time the ship size is doubled, its capacity to carry more goods is tripled. The economies of scale have attributed mostly to the increase in the vessels sizes. This is because of larger ships results to reduced cost of crew maintenance, reduce fuel, insurance and the cost of maintaining the vessel. This growth has also seen ports increase in size to accommodate the larger vessels. This has improved the global trade by providing the capacity for transportation of additional goods. The speed of ships has also been addressed to facilitate improved transportation. The recent ships have seen an improvement from 26kilometers per hour to 55 kilometers per hour. This is because the propulsion mechanism of the ships has been improved courtesy of advanced technology. There has been a shift from sailing to use of steam, to diesel to gas propelled turbines and recently nuclear technology. However, nuclear technology is only limited to military ships as the civilian attempts were discontinued in 1980 (Lun, Lai, and Cheng, 2013, pp.325). The invention of the helix has seen ships adopting double helixes for improved propulsion, consequently higher speeds. This progress has improved delivery time for the goods and product and improving the time frames of the global trade. Additionally, ships designs have greatly improved. There has been a shift from wood chassis to steel chassis. Currently, the ships are designed with a lot of effort to minimize energy consumption, improve on safety and reduce construction costs. This not only saves on the cost of goods transportation but also reduce the carbon footprint and ensure the environment is sustained (Roso, 2013, pp.153). Further, the industry has experienced automation in its services. This includes ship unloading technologies, global positioning systems, and computerized navigation systems. The results are that the system has become more efficient in reducing the time required to offload cargo ships. Additionally, the new system reduces the number of crews required to operate the ship, therefore, saving additional cost on salaries and remunerations.
Technical Innovations in Maritime Transport
The ports are critical infrastructure in the maritime transport systems. Most of the ports are mainly handled by global operators. In the year 2015, the global ports accounted for over 65 percent of transport throughput (UNCTAD/RMT/2017). Most of this terminal operators have embraced the world globalization trends and have set policies in place to facilitate the expansions of the port to speed docking time. The growth of the ports in Africa and Asia have carried huge significance. There is a fast increase in port expansion and developments in West Africa. This is characterized by the recent participation of developing countries in world trade. The maritime transport network accounts for over 80 percent of the world’s trade logistics (UNCTAD/RMT/2017). In Abidjan Nigeria for example, the dredging of a new port is in progress. This will see an increase in the movement of goods to and out of the country. Additionally, the expansion of the Tema port in Nigeria is expected to be completed by 2019 (UNCTAD/RMT/2017). Other prominent port projects are experienced in Asia. A couple of Asian countries including Sri-Lanka, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Myanmar have come together under the One Belt Road Initiative to facilitate the expansion of their ports. In Greece also, there is the expansion of various ports (Sánchez, et al., 2013, pp.200). Additionally, these ports are being equipped with a computerized system to facilitate faster offloading of ships. More cranes are being procured and set up in the ports in line with the global increase of trade. Due to the increase in trade, mainline services are becoming frequent as a result of alliances which creates a pairing of ports. Such alliances facilitate trans-shipment, consequently increasing productivity between the ports and reduce the costs of operations (Ducruet, 2013, pp.79). The port is also able to streamline their infrastructure, speed-up custom procedures and reduce cabotage restrictions (UNCTAD/RMT/2017). This alliances raise efficiency and provide reliable faster transit times, while consequently reducing calls to the port. A study carried out through monitoring of vessel movements have established that there has been a significant reduction in port turnaround time (time taken by the ships in the port) between 1995 and 2012. Most ports are implementing mechanisms that aim at addressing delays especially in the handling of freights and cargo. Initiatives such as the Portopia project brings various international consortium of stakeholders including researchers and academician who have diverse knowledge and experience in ports management, with the aim of supporting the maritime industry with performance data. Of essence is to plan and implement a policy that will ensure reliable and efficient service delivery in the ports. The International Association of Ports and Harbors similarly are working on initiatives to facilitate sustainable port performance. Port community systems are generally being introduced to enhance streamlined and efficient services (Davarzani, et al., 2016, pp.475). On the other hand, reforms on the customs department facilitate automation which has resulted in higher clearance of cargo and reduced dwell time in the ports.
Containerization has tremendously shaped linear shipping. The concept was first introduced by Malcolm Mclean in 1956 (Bernhofen, El-Sahli, and Kneller, 2016, pp.40). The use of containers since then has become the optimal way of transporting freight not only by sea but also on land. The use of containers has consequently propelled the maritime industry to new heights in the global economy. Linear shipping has increased by 60 percent as from 20 years ago (Guerrero, and Rodrigue, 2014, pp.160). The use of containers in the industry has not only boosted the maritime industry but also increased world trade and globalization. Containerization increased highly the capacity of the vessels to carry more goods. This is because the containers saved on space creating additional loading of goods. Containerization is very dynamic and has experienced a tremendous shift. These shifts have been shaped by international organizations increase in manufacturing and production. The container line, therefore, been constantly reshaped to accommodate the fast-growing global trade and facilitate economies of scale (Notteboom, and Rodrigue, 2013, pp.170). However, in 1970, various conventions in the United States came up with a standardized measurement for intermodal containers. The ISO requirements are 8 foot wide, 8 foot high and 20 foot long. This standardized measurement was developed to facilitate seamless trade by ensuring similarity in the global measurement and ease the transportation process. Container handling has also significantly changed in the maritime industry. There have been massive investments in the ports in terms of reliable cranes that speed up the loading and offloading of the containers. The speedy handling of the containers and the reduction of the turnaround time of the vessels is crucial for advancing the global trade and countering competition (Martin, 2013, pp.1028). Additionally, the worldwide trend has seen the private sector taking over the ports. Governments are increasingly offering leases for port operations to private companies. Global companies such as Evergreen and Maersk are good examples of such investors. Privatization of the ports has saved the state the cost of running the ports while also gaining income from the leases. Additionally, privatization has seen an increased efficiency in maritime operations in handling the increasing demands for movement of goods. Significantly, the use of containers in linear shipping has saved on the cost of running the ports (Meng, et al., 2013, pp.275). The bulk cargo era required certain goods to be disassembled during transportation and then re-assembled again when they reach their destinations. However, the introduction of containers facilitated that goods be transported as they are. Companies were able to save on the wasted labor that was required for the assembling process. Further, containerization came up with new technologies such as the use of cranes for loading and offloading. The port, therefore, able to save on the cost of hiring human labor for the process as it was the case for bulk cargo. Containerization also maximized the use of space in the port by ensuring that more goods were able to be stored (Park, Kim, and Aydogdu, 2013, pp.153). This increased the movement of goods. As compared with the bulk cargo, containers save on critical storage space. Additionally, containers reduced transits cost of cargo due to the elimination of unwanted process. Economies of scale are achieved by the use of containers as large amount of cargo can be transported hence increasing globalization. Containerization has single-handedly facilitated the growth of ports and increased international trade.
Ports as Critical Infrastructure
As the world economy becomes increasingly globalized, the transport network system also develops in order to facilitate the movement of goods to the required destination. The maritime transport network has been developed to increase the speed and efficiency of ships, the ability of ports to handle more goods and at a faster rate and the introduction of containers to address the economies of scale. The modern ships are fitted with advanced technologies to minimize energy consumption and consequently save on the cost of operations. The reduced operating costs are passed down to the companies in terms of reducing the cost of freight transportation. To cater to the growing demand for movement of goods, the ports are increasingly being automated and their sizes increased to allow docking of additional ships. The introduction of containers as a mode of transport has tremendously developed the maritime industry. Containerization has not only increased the movement of more goods per freight but also reduce the cost of operations significantly. Containerization additionally facilitate economies of scale by allowing more goods to be transported. Trends set by increase whole trade has necessitated the maritime industry to apply necessary steps to cater to the increasing need for transport. The shifts discussed above gives the maritime industry a huge advantage as a mode of transport.
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