Comms from ship to shore

Philip Mason explores how cutting-edge technology is being used to overcome the obstacles to digital communication inherent in a shipping and container port environment

Ports and shipping is a unique sector, both in terms of the logistics involved in successfully doing business, and in turn what operators within it require from their digital communications.

In the first instance, the sheer scale of the work is extraordinary, with the biggest container ports having to deal with hundreds of tonnes of freight on a daily basis. One example of this is Shanghai, the biggest port in the world, which as of 2015 – according to the American Association of Port Authorities – stored and shifted more than 36 million containers in the course of a single year.

The containers present their own logistical challenges. Up to 56 feet long and invariably constructed from steel, these items are unloaded from ship to shore via the use of massive container cranes. They are subsequently stacked using equally behemoth-like straddle-carriers, which are essentially mobile cranes tall enough to carry multiple containers at a time, one on top of the other.

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