BLOK Container Systems has designed a spreader to enable four empty shipping containers to be simultaneously lifted and transported on to quaysides as a single block.
The manufacturer hopes that the invention could help to ease congestion in container ports, reduce emissions and save billions across the industry.
The company was started two years ago by Martin Clive-Smith, Henry Reynolds and Selwyn Rowley, who have a combined experience of more than 80 years across engineering and marketing.
Selwyn Rowley, BLOK’s director of sales and marketing, said: “This is a major innovation that is going to change the maritime sector – it is perhaps the biggest step forward since the introduction of the shipping container as multiple container handling has the potential to revolutionise port handling systems.
“Ports around the world handle 679m containers annually of which around 24% are handled empty. Container terminals charge at least £100 and often much more a lift, so the potential savings created by being able to move four at a time rather than one run into the billions.”
According to Rowley, BLOK has seen interest in the system from ports around the world as well as country members of the International Maritime Organisation.
He added: “Ships have become bigger now and carry as many as 20,000 containers but that volume has exacerbated delays at ports and more efficient handling is required.
“The price of fuel is also going up and tough new environmental standards are being introduced so time savings are essential to allow for slower sailing.”
As an engineer, Clive-Smith has been responsible for more than 140 patents and US$2bn sales of container industry products used the world over.
BLOK worked with Coventry & Warwickshire LEP Growth Hub and Coventry City Council and to help fund development of the Spreader, with the two organisations working together to secure a £100,000 (US$132,000) grant from the European Regional Development Fund.