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The Changing Role Of The Container Depot

Monday, 8th March 2010
Container depots the world over have 3 main activities, storage, handling and repair. Traditionally these activities provided the main revenue stream. Each time a container is delivered to or collected from the depot a handling charge is raised to cover the cost of the truck, driver, fuel, ancillary lifts in the depot and administration. Storage is usually charged at an agreed rate per TEU per day and charged monthly. Repairs to the equipment depend on the criteria to which the customer works. Some require only basic cargoworthty standard repairs, some follow the CIC criteria and others IICL. In most instances the client will agree an MAH schedule with the depot which covers the labour hours and materials to be charged for most repairs. With container sales being so buoyant and redeliveries into the U.K capped or limited, due to poor export demand, storage levels have been reducing for many years. Repairs too are dwindling, the current criteria only covers the bare minimum to put the container back into service with little or no attention paid to cosmetics or preventative maintenance, driven by the relatively low cost to buy new boxes in China. With the 3 main core activities of the depot in decline owners are having to diversify into many different areas such as container conversions and transport to cover the shortfall. Those unwilling or unable to adapt have closed, a trend that is being seen the world over. Staff are leaving the industry taking valuable skills with them, few school leavers these days aspire to port or depot work. With available land being snapped up for development and depot owners moving away from storage, handling and repairs container owners and shipping lines could soon be faced with lots of boxes with nowhere to go and no-one to service them.

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