The intermodal transport unit, which originated in road transport, has become swap bodies (there is also a United States translation of the "exchange body"). Removable body (hereinafter - CK), as the name implies, is a truck body that can be easily detached from the chassis and mounted on hinged supports (Figure 10.13). The internal dimensions of the CK are ideally suited to the dimensions of standard pallets. Another advantage of CK is the possibility of removal from the car without additional lifting equipment. It replaces the air suspension of the car, which allows you to install a removable body on the supports by simply reducing the ride height. Since the 1980s, when trucks with such a suspension have become widespread in Europe, the fleet of automotive removable bodies designed for various types of cargo has grown rapidly, and in many logistic systems CK has displaced the exchange semi-trailers.>
Fig. 10.13. Detachable body before installing on the chassis of the car
Removable bodies were also used for intermodal road and rail transport. This required the creation of SK structures specially designed for intermodal transport. Supports ceased to be a mandatory element of the UK. The reinforced power frame made it possible to stack removable bodies in a stack (individual types - up to 3 tiers). Removable bodies began to be equipped with standard container fittings and apertures "for forks for vertical overload. As a result, the ICs have become more constructive and more like the use of "long and wide" sea containers (see below), and it is becoming increasingly difficult to draw a clear boundary between these two types of ITU.
Demountable bodies are used exclusively in intra-European trade and, mainly, in road and rail transport, although they are increasingly delivered by the European lines Ro-Ro. "
Modern supply chains are characterized by an ever-increasing use of new generation containers that are oriented towards efficient use in intermodal inland transport systems.
The first feature of such containers is the increased length, allowing full use of the permitted length of the road train. Priority in the development and use of such containers belongs to the US shipping company APB, which in 1986 first applied for domestic road and rail freight containers 48 feet in length, which are currently used in the US everywhere. In some US states, 53-foot containers are used in accordance with the dimensional restrictions that apply there (figure 10.14).
Fig. 10.14. Railway container platform for two-tier container installation:
At the bottom - a marine 40-foot container, at the top - "continental" container 53 feet long (USA)
The European version of the "long" containers are 45-foot containers, which correspond to the maximum length of the road train allowed for transport between the countries of the European Union. They are increasingly used not only in road and rail transport, but also in the system of European coastal shipping (short-sea shipping) with the use of horizontal loading vessels, where such a container is loaded either on a car semi-trailer or on a special cart or cassette.>
Another trend, along with the extension, is an increase in the width of the containers, which ensures the maximum filling of the container with standard pallets (the so-called pallet-wide containers). An increasing number of container operators in Europe offer customers containers that have an increased width and allow the stacking of euro pallets in two rows (Figure 10.15). Adapted to a standard North American tray containers 8.5 feet wide (2.59 m) are also used in the US.
Two of these trends naturally integrated, beginning the generation of "long and wide" containers that can be referred to as continental & quot ;. The already mentioned company ARB, since 1989, has introduced 53-foot containers with a width of 8.5 feet, which can be transported without restrictions on the road network of several states, where the largest ports of the western coast of the United States are located.
Fig. 10.15. Placement of Europallets in a standard 40-foot container (a) and in a pallet wide container, expanded to 2.5 m (b)
European pallet-wide 45-foot containers, which according to the internal volume fully comply with the standard semi-trailer, become the main intermodal unit used for transport in the EU region.
Continental containers are not suitable for mass transportation by conventional container marine vessels. If intermodal transport includes an ocean shoulder, there is a need for transshipment of goods between ITUs of different types. However, the operators of the continental containers can turn the forced overload from the problem into an advantage due to the fact that:
- it can be accompanied by subgrouping, packing, marking, pre-sale preparation of goods and provision of other additional services for cargo owners (usually these operations are performed at the port logistics center);
- the sea container is returned to the shipping company already in the port, which reduces the user's costs;
- Continental container, the parameters of which are free from the limitations of the 1972 customs convention on containers, may have side doors, a removable roof and other structural features facilitating its loading and unloading;
- the container can be used for medium-term storage of goods - for example, when delivered to hard-to-reach areas - and have special equipment for this - heating, ventilation, lighting, etc.
- increased volume of "long container" provides significant savings for long distance transport by inland transport (for example, the useful volume of three marine 40-foot containers corresponds to the volume of two "wide" 53-foot containers).
In recent years, there has been a remarkable trend in the emergence of linear ocean services using continental containers. The reason is that as the fleet of continental containers grows, there are market incentives for shipping companies to re-equip individual line vessels for the long-distance transportation of such containers by sea.
In 2009, ARP opened a regular weekly ocean service from the ports of South China to Los Angeles, using containers with a length of 53 feet. Here ships that have cargo holdings of appropriate size are plying, and the reinforced construction of containers allows them to be installed on a ship in 9 tiers. Intermodal transportation in long and wide 53-foot containers, which hold 60% more cargo than standard 40-foot containers, significantly improve the cost-effectiveness of the supply chain and reduce the load on the port and terminal infrastructure due to the reduction in the number of reloading operations. Currently, such services are open ARD already on several lines of Chinese and Vietnamese directions.
While such lines open up for a single client & quot ;, i.e. serve the industrial supply chains with fairly large volumes of traffic. However, in the opinion of many experts, in maritime intermodal transportations the period of undivided domination of 20- and 40-foot containers is coming to an end. They are replaced by intermodal units, which are more in line with the requirements of supply chains throughout their entire length.
Prospects for creating a universal ITU
The variety of ITUs available on the market certainly enhances the capabilities of users and logistics operators. At the same time, it increasingly complicates terminal operations, the selection of rolling stock and vessels under ITU, maintenance and selection of system logistics solutions, since different types of ITU have their advantages and disadvantages (Table 10.2). In addition, the release of new types of ITUs in small series leads to a significant increase in their cost.
Given these factors, the European Commission has developed proposals for the preparation of a standard for the so-called European Intermodal Loading Unit (EILU). The goal is to create an ITU design that would combine the advantages of containers and removable bodies. Requirements for this design are formulated as follows:
To ensure the best suitability for intermodal transport, ITU must allow stacking, be usable from above on overload and to sea transportation. ITU should have the maximum volume for the transport of pallets and allow their rapid loading and unloading to reduce costs and reduce delays. ITU should allow the loading of two euro pallets in a row. The useful internal width, therefore, should be 2 x 1200 mm plus the gap, the value of which should be determined additionally. The outer width should be minimal, ideally 2500 mm, which corresponds to the distance between the rails in the ship's holds. In any case, ITU must allow the carriage of cars by "."
After the publication of these proposals, a number of independent studies were conducted to assess the need and possible consequences of creating such a standard. The results of these studies can be summarized as follows:
- the EILU concept contradicts the interests of sea container companies;
Under any conditions EILU will remain only intra-European ITU and will not get global spread;
- the estimated economic efficiency of the implementation of the new standard is still questionable and requires additional analysis, whereas its introduction will obviously entail additional costs and operational difficulties;
- Pallet-wide containers have been successfully operated for more than 20 years. 45-foot containers also proved themselves in the market. 45-feet wide the container has a capacity even greater than is assumed by the draft EILU standard;
- wide and long containers are needed for many goods, but not for everyone;
Table 10.2. Comparative characteristics of intermodal transport units
- the introduction of a new container standard in the EU will create a definite conflict with ISO, whereas a change in the design of ships, land vehicles and ITU should be a coordinated and balanced process.
Thus, it can be assumed that in the foreseeable future, the development of ITU will be stimulated, first of all, by market factors, and not by new standards, and the 45-foot pallet-wide container will be increasingly used in European logistics.
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