Empty Boxes

Trevor Holt
17th March 2009, 20:45
With the recent economic down turn i notice the box boats are really suffering. Where do the store the empty boxes?(Pint)

17th March 2009, 21:19
store them in the empty box cupboard.(Jester)some box boats were laid up on the river fal.truro.i suppose they would lay them up where ever convenient for the owner.i.e how quick they can get them back into service.[car carriers].oops just re-read your post and you must be on about container,s.probably unload them at the terminals ,before being laid up.

17th March 2009, 22:37
Trevor at most terminals there is room for stack upon stack of containers or so I believe..

17th March 2009, 22:45
they put them in empty boxes..........:)

John Gurton
18th March 2009, 15:19
They fill them full of fresh air in Europe and ship them out to China to reduce their pollution problem.

fred henderson
18th March 2009, 21:23
There is a plan to use the old Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong to store containers.


Trevor Holt
19th March 2009, 10:00
Thanks for the constructive reply Fred, it was a genuine question that i raised. I read on another site that one of the ports in China had 450,000 empty boxes and this was causing considerable embarrassment. The distribution of these boxes is a very complex one and i would like to know more on how it is managed. I'm shure many contributors to this site have very good reason for resenting the coming of the "Box Boats" but they are here to stay i think.

Sarky Cut
19th March 2009, 10:09
How do the companies keep track of the boxes?

By computor of course, I hope the system is better than the airport luggage system!

23rd March 2009, 06:54
How do the companies keep track of the boxes?

By computor of course, I hope the system is better than the airport luggage system!

God help them if they get the same computer problems that i have encountered in the past.........Al

Kalamaki Bob
23rd March 2009, 10:21
Most container ships will carry some empties around with them. It's a bit pointless having loads of boxes on a container terminal that aren't going to be used so they will be held in readiness to be stuffed inland and when loaded transported to the dock for loading.
I worked at Cawoods Container Terminal in Ellesmere Port and large amounts of empties would have stopped us working effectively. We handled empties quite a bit but got them off the terminal, either onto a ship, wagon or train, as soon as we could.
By the way the tracking systems weren't brilliant in the'90s when I was on the terminal, One box mainifested as being loaded with Kellogs cornflakes was being loaded and the crane driver noted that it was a bit heavier than it should have been. On checking it turned out that the container held a brand new Bentley Continental!

Trevor Holt
23rd March 2009, 11:23
Thanks for that Bob that just the thing i'm trying to get to grips with. The systems seem to have improved no end recently. But its a very complex 'operation. Drove by Seaforth yesterday its seems pinching your traffic didn't do them much good. Rgds from "Sunny Blackpool".

Kalamaki Bob
23rd March 2009, 12:11
Our operation in Ellesmere Port was a 'One Off'. We didn't have any way of moving containers except for 4 cranes. We had two shiploader cranes on the 'front' quay and two transtainer cranes on the back. We had roadways to allow wagons to drive to the relevant place on the back for offloading. Boxes were stored here until we set up the front quay for loading the ship after we had planned the load. There was a big element of skill and experience in stacking on the front as the bottom box in the stack had to be a top box on the ship and the top box in the stack had to be a bottom box in the ship etc. A bit like a big chess game! We also had daily trains that carried special Cawoods coal boxes for the Northern Irish trade as well as more conventional boxes for our 'Medi' trade.

Everything was manual with quay runners regularly updating plans as well as searching for moved boxes.

I don't know how we managed it but we did and very succesfully as well. I don't think any other terminal worked anything like we did. Small but a very quick turnround.

A couple of the guys I worked with are now in terminals in the Gulf area and I believe things have really changed and continue to do so.

30th March 2009, 22:33
John Gurtons reply might have sounded a bit flippant, but the truth of the matter is that there was a lot of cargo coming to Europe from China, & very little in the opposite direction. On a voyage late last year we left the Medi for China loaded with empty boxes only (over 6,000teu), all destined for China. Also, if I remember correctly, one of the last of the same class as the Emma Maersk slow steamed (13/14 knots, although I stand to be corrected by someone who was there) out to the Far East from Europe with a full load of empty boxes before being slotted into a run.

31st March 2009, 11:17
Certainly the imbalances have increased over the years particularly with the growth in imports from China - understand on the transpacific trades the eastbound export loaded leg is around 30% of westbound. The Asia/Europe trade runs at similar levels although the transatlantic is much more balanced. Certain big carriers regularly charter containerships just to re-position empty boxes from Europe back to the Far East particularly from the smaller container ports such as Liverpool - it works out cheaper than having to move them by road or rail back to the mainline terminals in Southampton or Felixstowe to catch the "mother" vessels.

Dave Woods
31st March 2009, 12:44
Sarky Cut.

How do the companies keep track of the boxes?

I remember in the late 70's when Thos & Jas went into box boats, they started to loose some of their special ones with a logo. We were asked to keep a lookout on our travels around the country and report them to head office, I can not remember if they were going to pay for each sighting.

Where are they keeping the spares these days - Almost every layby on the roads appears to have a couple(EEK)

Kalamaki Bob
31st March 2009, 13:57
I think the inbalances have always been there especially in specialist containers. I know at Cawoods we would ship out full open topped containers to Belfast and they would come back empty. There was never a reverse trade to utilise the empties. Same with things like glass carriers from Pilkingtons that went out round the Medi. They'd come back empty. When we had delivery drivers dropping off a load they's very often load an empty to take for stuffing somewhere. I suppose there is just a lot less stuffing now.

1st April 2009, 04:11
A lot of the containers used are leased of course, and boxes surplus to requirements will be returned to their lessors, who will have to stack 'em up somewhere. Whatever, I do not think it is a good time to be in the box business at any level.

1st April 2009, 08:09
There has been a few shipping containers put to use in NZ as sheds in all forms.
Superficially damaged containers seem to get sold off cheap and end up on farms, behind warehouses and in on case an architect managed to assemble three or four into a novel dwelling for a difficult site.
My old company had a couple of 20 ft units fitted out as work shops to drop on to a boiler repair or erection site all ready to go.


1st April 2009, 08:17
Having made the above post I googled shippingcontainerhouse.com to find a few innovative ideas in this direction. No wonder so many containers go missing


J Boyde
1st April 2009, 08:59
Any laid up ships, fill them up with unwated boxes.
Jim B

1st April 2009, 10:01
This economic downturn is generating its own unique problems for the shipping community. As well as the out of work ships, there has been a drastic down turn for the requirement of containers and the speed that the downturn has kicked in has stunned the industry. As in the past these boxes have all been moving and there has been no problem but now large numbers have come ashore and remained there. As well as the ports having capacity to store empties there are off wharf container depots and these are generally cheaper for long term storage. But over the years the number of depots has decreased and with it the amount of capacity available to store boxes.
Many container lines in cost cutting moves have reduced the size of their container fleets and returned leased boxes to the container leasing companies. In addition to the Lines owned fleet that has remained ashore.
Lines have also increased their phase out programmes for aging equipment where boxes are sold but there is only a limited market for the sale of old containers. Certain locations in Asia and Europe have now reached full capacity with regards to empties and are no longer in a position to accept any more containers for storage. In Asia the situation has got that bad that some out of work container vessels have been loaded with mtys and then put to anchor again. With no demand for containers, the building of new containers has diminished and these container manufacturers must now be facing hardship as well. The recession has yet to hit the ship builders but it must only be a matter of time before the order books start to run a bit thin and you have lost a lot labour and skills right across the shipping spectrum.
The last figure I heard of for the number of laid up box boats was around 450 what happens to these crews during the downturn they may be out of work but people still need to eat to survive.


Jim McFaul
3rd April 2009, 22:04
Regarding the Kellogg's/Bentley incident I'm sure lots of mistakes happen, after all it is highly computerised, but containers apparently don't always contain what the manifest states for a number of different and often illegitimate reasons. Read somewhere this has been the cause of some container ship fires where containers holding undeclared chemicals were stored near heat sources in other containers. Understood one aspect of the MSC Napoli salvage operation was to open the containers salvaged and compare what they contained against what had been declared. Never heard the outcome. On the subject of lost containers, also read somewhere that at least one enterprising chap tracks down lost containers, finds a cargo for them and then ships them back to the UK where he gets both a finder's fee and the profit from the cargo. You might think there would be an AIS system to keep track of containers these days? Jim McFaul.

Don Matheson
3rd April 2009, 23:04
Used to work for Aramco Marine Dept at Ras Tanura in Saudi, my workshop had a yard built from containers both 20 and 40 foot to store spares and equipment. There were a lot of them and had been there for years. I believe they had arrived over the years and Aramco just kept them.

Watched a TV prog. recently where they were using blocks of containers to build houses, think it was Rotterdam and London. You could buy eight old containers knock them all together with any design you wanted. New doors and stairs including internal stairs if you wanted a multi story house and the world is your oyster. Much cheaper than building them with brick, instead of brickies you need a couple of welders and away you go. Eight by forty foot could be a good sizes house and you can sell the old doors for scrap.