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It’s all goods

Date: 13/03/2014

The global economy depends on the transportation of goods around the world. Who carries the heaviest weight?

Ever since communities discovered that they weren’t alone in the world, they have been transporting and exchanging goods using every means that they could. The first transportation tools were probably rudimentary sledges made from branches. The invention of the wheel further fuelled the transportation of goods and the construction of road networks that connected countries and continents. Simultaneously, adventurers were mapping sea routes to transport people and goods more efficiently and less dangerously.

Fast forward to the present day and the transportation and handling of cargo has transformed the world into the proverbial global village. Every day, thousands of containers are hauled on trucks and trains, ferried on ships from port to port, and stacked on huge cargo aircrafts. The infrastructure that supports the transportation of cargo is gargantuan. Ports stretch for kilometres, airports never close, and tonnes of goods cross continents until they arrive on our doorstep.

In the air

The logistics at the world’s busiest airport cargo hubs are impressive. Cargo City at Frankfurt airport, Germany, handles millions of tonnes of cargo a year and is one of the busiest in Europe. And every year, Cargo City continues to expand to meet the demand – in fact, it is calculated that by 2020, Cargo City will be able to handle 3.16 million tonnes of cargo every year.

Cargo City is divided into two main areas: Cargo City North is the main base of Lufthansa Cargo AG, while Cargo City South is home to global cargo players and the local freight-handling company. The facilities at Cargo City enable the transportation of various goods, from airmail and frozen foods to hazardous goods and animals. In fact, the animal lounge is one of the world’s most advanced and features 42 large animal stalls and 12 individually climate-controlled chambers.

Another busy European cargo hub is Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. Home to FedEx’s second global hub, Charles de Gaulle Airport handles around 30 per cent of air freight in terms of French exports value.

Memphis International Airport in the US has what is probably the largest cargo operation by volume in the world. Last year, it recorded year on year growth of 2.5 per cent, the second highest rate of growth in the world. Memphis is also home to the FedEx Express Super Hub, which was built in 1993. The Super Hub has parking slots for 175 aircraft, 300 miles of conveyor belts, and handles around 3.3 million packages a day.

Further east, Hong Kong has, in 2013, enjoyed a 1.8 per cent year on year growth. Handling close to two million tonnes of cargo every year – and with a capacity to handle 2.6 million tonnes a year – Hong Kong International Airport is one of the most important cargo centres for the Chinese mainland. China has its own facilities as well, with the main one being Shanghai Pudong Airport.

Dubai International Airport is constantly growing, and so is the Dubai Cargo Gateway. The home of Emirates SkyCargo, it has a total handling capacity of 1.8 million tonnes a year. The first cargo handling facility in the Middle East to be awarded an ISO 9002 certificate, Dubai Cargo Gateway is also one of the most technologically advanced, with automated handling systems and real-time tracking.

At sea

The accolade for the world’s busiest container port is contested by many – this is due to the fact that as yet, there is no standardised means of evaluating port performance and traffic. In fact, while some ports base their measurement on cargo tonnage handled, others calculate their traffic according to shipping tonnage.

What is certain is that most of the world’s biggest container ports are in China. Based on cargo throughput, the Port of Shanghai is the biggest in the world. Located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the port has 125 berths with a total quay length of about 20 kilometres and serves more than 2,000 container ships every month.

Still in China but towards the north, the Port of Tianjin handles close to 500 million tonnes of cargo every year. Featuring 159 berths, the port connects to more than 500 ports and serves 189 countries. China has another two ports which frequently make it to the top 10 busiest container ports in the world: the Port of Guangzhou, which handles more than 450 million tonnes of cargo every year, and the Port of Ningbo, which connects to more than 600 ports in 100 countries. Recently merged with the Port of Zhoushan, the Port of Ningbo now has a TEU capacity of 16.83 million tonnes.

According to the World Shipping Council, the Port of Singapore is the second biggest in the world. With six terminals, the port receives an average of 140,000 ships every year and connects to 600 ports around the world. By 2020, the Port of Singapore will have an additional 15 berths.

Rotterdam has the biggest port in Europe. Stretching across 42 kilometres, the Port of Rotterdam offers unrestricted access to ships with the deepest draughts. The port is currently undergoing a massive expansion – the first phase, which opened last May, doubled the port’s container transfer capacity.


Source: Times of Malta

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