Bloomberg finds that Shipping Containers are Falling Overboard at Fastest Rate in Seven Years

Bloomberg finds that Shipping Containers are Falling Overboard at Fastest Rate in Seven Years
20 August 2021

Our maritime connectivity team wanted to share this interesting piece by Bloomberg, which says that “The shipping industry is seeing the biggest spike in lost containers in seven years. More than 3,000 boxes dropped into the sea last year, and more than 1,000 have fallen overboard” - as at April 2021 with the loss calculated to be $54.5 million.

Apparently, there are many reasons for the increase in containers going overboard:

  • The weather is getting more unpredictable with the “strongest winds over the Northern Pacific since 1948 increasing the likelihood of rougher seas and bigger waves”
  • Ships are getting bigger with containers stacked higher making the ship more unstable in a storm
  • Ships are closer to full capacity than in the past
  • Increase in spending after consumer demand exploded during COVID = commercial pressure on the ships to arrive on time, and make more voyages
  • Need for speed means captains are pushing on through storms to save time and fuel
  • Crews are overworked and exhausted with human error contributing to “at least three-quarters of shipping industry accidents and fatalities”
  • Poor maintenance of the cabling and locks that secure containers

With 226 million container boxes shipped each year, it’s clear that the industry needs to adopt the latest technologies to improve efficiencies.  Smart Ports and Smart Containers need to become the norm.

Smart Containers, IoT and maritime connectivity

We’ve previously written about how, as events unfolded in The Suez in April, the industry divided into those who had full visibility of their containers - on the Ever Given or stuck in the queue of some 400 vessels- and those who didn’t.  The same applies for containers that go overboard.

This UN White Paper on Smart Containers is clear: “Any container can become a Smart Container. Smart Container electronics can be built in during manufacturing, retrofitted to all types of existing containers, or embedded within the contents of the container”.

And “over the last five years, a significant number of containers have already been equipped with tracking and monitoring devices. The relevant accumulated data demonstrate significant gains in transparency, integrity, efficiency, predictability and effectiveness of cargo shipping.

The results also show a tremendous improvement in cargo care, service and maintenance with gains that have a positive impact on safety for seagoing personnel and more environment-friendly container operations”.

The Need For IoT Networks

Key to the success of Smart Containers is the rollout of IoT networks, both on-board ships and within ports.  These allow the information about the container and its contents, which is gathered by sensors, to be transmitted to the crew - and remotely to the shipping line, the owners of the container’s contents and to ports which have to prepare for the arrival of ships and transfer of containers

And, for IoT to work, fast and always-on maritime connectivity is required.

Satellite has traditionally been the connectivity tool of choice for the shipping industry.

However, these days most maritime cellular communication networks can provide coverage up to 40km/25 miles out to sea (without a guaranteed QoS). As most vessels tend to spend their time in-port or hugging the coast, cellular can almost always be used for both voice and data.

Telecom26’s Maritime Connectivity Service - In Port and At-Sea

We provide high-quality and cost-effective connectivity for ports - and for vessels of all sizes wherever they are in the world.

For ports we combine private networks with IoT networks with cellular coverage in order to provide always-on connectivity with the widest coverage at a competitive price.

For vessels, we provide private networks combined with cross-border and international water services for ships, crews, passengers and devices using our Global SIM cards which can access multiple networks both in-country and across borders thus removing the need to worry about the coverage of a single MNO, or the existence of roaming alliances. A multi-SIM router hosting SIMs with multi-IMSI feature, enables ship-wide Wi-Fi

To learn more about Telecom26’s suite of IoT maritime connectivity and maritime cellular communications services, please contact us. 

Telecom26 Maritime

Telecom26 is a full-service operator, with coverage to connect you in any maritime environment. As a full member operator of the GSMA, we provide cross-border and international water services for ships, crews, passengers and devices.
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