Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ship It!

There is a joke used at various stages of software development. Let's say a programmer gets a program to run once correctly. Someone would call out, "Ship It!", implying don't look any further, ship it out before we find any more problems.

All humor aside, the shipping industry is unimaginably massive and its economies of scale make for some truly mind boggling decisions, like the one above. Author Rose George wrote a book, "Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate" that is a fascinating look at this highly secretive industry

Some more interesting facts about the shipping industry from the book:

  • Shipping is the "greenest" mass transport - "Sending a container from Shanghai to Le Havre (France) emits fewer greenhouse gases than the truck that takes the container on to Lyon." 
  • Ships are incredibly big - One of the latest shipping vessel, the Maersk Triple-E, came into service in 2013 and holds up to 18,000 containers (about 894 million bananas). Just the containers owned by Maersk would stretch nearly halfway around the planet.
  • Ships cover the oceans - 20 million+ containers are on the ocean at the same time.
  • Inspection of containers is rare - Forget TV or the movies, only 5 percent of the containers shipped to U.S. ports are physically inspected, and that number is even lower in Europe.The oceans are vast - A container ship travels the equivalent of three-quarters of the way to the moon and back in one year. Two-thirds of ship crews have no means of communication off the ship. Only 12% have freely available Internet.
  • Shipping companies don't like outsiders - So secretive and private is shipping that the official Greek shipowners' association refuses to reveal how many members it actually has. This is not considered weird in the industry.
  • U.S. ports handle huge quantities of goods - In 2011, the 360 commercial ports of the United States took in international goods worth $1.73 trillion.

No comments:

Post a Comment