Category: Navigation channels

November 2016 Transportation by barge as an alternative to intermodal transport

Use of transportation by barge

The systems of transportation by barge have long been used as an alternative to land transport. This mean of transportation is competitive to trains and trucks. In addition, it significantly allows the reduction of the environmental footprint of the transport of goods.

There are two major segments in the market, long and the short distance.

Long-distance is used in large rivers, such as Mississippi, Rhine, Danube and St Lawrence in transporting the goods from one end to the other of the continents.

This system is competitive to trains and trucks, but its performance depends greatly on the quality of the underlying infrastructure and the interconnection of the navigational channels. In return, barges offer the advantage to adapt to different types of products transported and allow more flexibility for the navigation on the various courses of water. They offer capacities ranging from 350 to 11 000 tonnes of deadweight and use proven technologies.

On short distances, this type of transport is growing and presents new opportunities.  Pilot projects have demonstrated this effectiveness, in particular, to reduce congestion in the areas of access to port sites of international trade.

Despite the high volume of activities and the economic benefits that flow from port activities, access to facilities remains constrained due to the movement of trucks and trains. The comings and the goings of land vehicles pose a problem by the noise, air and ground pollution, and by the loss of time related to the traffic congestion. In addition, the congestion of port activities reduces the effectiveness of the supply chain by increasing the time of distribution of the goods to the markets of destination.

To solve these problems and, as a counterweight to the costly alternatives that the investments represent in the construction, enlargement and the optimization … Lire la suite


The Panama canal


On June 26, the Government of Panama announced, with great fanfare, the completion of the expansion of the Panama canal. It was a historic event for this small Central America country. The crowd was awaiting the traverse of the first container ship, a Cosco ship from Asia, measuring 300 meters long, 48.25 metres wide and capable of carrying 9 500 containers (TEUS): two times the maximum capacity of the old locks.

62 international delegations were invited to listen to the speech by President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez. The event reflected the project: the Panama canal plays a strategic role in international maritime transport. For the population of Panama, expectations are high, since this project will hopefully revive the country’s economy and restore the market share lost over time to the Suez canal.

Although the promotional campaign of the Panamanian Government is fully justified, studies on the impact of the project leave many elements imprecise and uncertain. The complexity of the world situation and the state of international trade which has evolved in recent years may explain it.

According to research conducted jointly by The Boston Consulting Group and C.H. Robinson, as much as 10 percent of container traffic between East Asia and the U.S. could shift from West Coast ports to East Coast ports by the year 2020. Other research also suggests that the expansion of the canal will impact the trade of bulk, especially between Asia and America.

However, several market conditions are necessary for the achievement of these forecasts. The following text presents an analysis of these conditions.

The role of Panama

A strategic location

The Panama canal plays a strategic and undeniable role in global transportation. It significantly reduces the distance required for the transport of goods. Transportation costs are substantially reduced, as are the price … Lire la suite