Since the invention of the container, the developing of container vessels has gone fast. Where the first container vessel had a capacity of just 58 TEU, nowadays container vessels carry over 11,000 TEU. This development happened in only 40 years. Before the invention of the container, cargo was handled by hand. The loading and unloading of ships took days or even weeks, in this way it was not possible to increase the ship sizes. But when the containerization started, much more cargo was handled by gantry cranes. In this way the cargo handling time was very much reduced. Ports and terminals became more productive. The major question in this paper has everything to do with the increasing vessel sizes and the productivity of the terminals. So the focus in this paper is on: What is the influence of the increasing container vessel sizes on the productivity of terminals? At first it is necessary to have a look at the history of container shipping. How did it develop and why did the container vessels grew larger and larger over the years? What were the main reasons for the container carriers to increase the size of their vessels? Increasing the size of container vessels had a lot of advantages, mainly for the container carriers, but there were also some disadvantages. The advantages for container carriers can also be disadvantages for the terminal operators. For instance when the container vessels grow larger, most of the times they get a deeper draft too. This means that port authorities need to make their berth locations deeper. The advantages and disadvantages have their influence on terminals. But do they increase or decrease the productivity of terminals? And how is the productivity of terminals measured? All these questions are discussed in this paper and contribute to answering the main question of this paper.
Invention of container shipping
In 1914 a man called Malcom McLean was born. To help his family out of the Great Depression, which started in 1929, he started a trucking company. When he delivered his cargo to the port of destination often, he needed to wait long before his cargo got unloaded. The cargo handling was very labour-intensive and time-consuming back then. Because of this long waiting time he invented an easier way to load and unload cargo. In the first place he investigated whether it was possible to load the entire truck with cargo on the ship and transport it to another port where the truck could resume his voyage. In this way he masterminded, without knowing it, the first step of intermodality. But it was not possible to take the drivers on the ship for this long, so he started thinking about a new way to load and unload the cargo. With a lot of thinking and after a couple of years he engineered the container. At the beginning of 1955 he sold his trucking company with over 1,700 trucks for about 12 million dollars. With this money he bought two tankers and converted them to the very first container vessels. In April 1956 the first containership, the Ideal X, made his maiden voyage with room for 58 containers. One year later a new invention was done, as it was made possible to stack containers on top of each other. In that year the SS Gateway City made his first voyage with 226 containers. In 1960, McLean called his liner shipping company Sea-Land. This, as known now, became one of the largest cargo carriers in the world. Sea-Land invented the SL-7 vessels in 1972; these vessels were not only faster than the SS Gateway City, but also larger with space for over 1,000 containers. Before that time McLean already sold his company in 1969 for 160 million dollars and in 1999 the company was sold again, this time to the A.P. Moeller Group. In this way Sea-Land became part of the Maersk Line which had the largest containership fleet in the world at that moment.
Transportation by container vessels gave important...