Container cranes lag container ships by a generation

Shoreside infrastructure continues to suffer diseconomies of scale as container ships grow, adding a column per generation

Speaking at CMA Shipping 2023 last week, Shmuel Yahalom, Ph.D., Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Transportation at SUNY Maritime College said that each recent generation of container ships has added 2.5m in beam, the width of a container, as container lines seek economies of scale on the water.

Yahalom found that crane productivity had increased by over 90% in the past 20 years, but vessel bay size had increased by 202% over the same period.

“This shows that the port catches up with the vessel size one generation of vessels behind. They are always one generation behind at the beginning, and then two generations behind. So, there is not going to be convergence under those circumstances.”

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