Lashing robots

Each year, around 1,390 containers are lost at sea due to poor lashing and rough weather conditions.[1] When failure occurs, containers fall into the sea and can cause a ship to lose its stability, resulting in even more losses.[1,2]

Current practice has 8 or more containers lashed and de-lashed by specialists, under heavy time-pressure and in all weather conditions, amounting to one of the most dangerous jobs in maritime. 

In 2016, the international shipping industry transported approximately 130 million containers, with an estimated value of more than $4tn.[3] Today's container ships carry up to 22,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent) containers, with forecasts pointing towards 50,000-TEU ships by 2067.[4]

Investments in automation at ports are forecasted to be able to reduce operating expense by 25-55%, and increase productivity by 10-35%.[5,6] Lashing robots will improve ports' profitability through higher safety and faster container handling.[5] Failure due to human error will decrease, and the reliability and predictability of performance will increase.

When will it become an accepted practice that robots perform lashing operations for securing containers?

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References:
[1] Schuler, M., (2017), Number of Containers Lost at Sea Falling, Survey Shows
[2] Anish, (2019), Important Points for Safe Container Lashing
[3] World Shipping Council, (2017), Containers Lost At Sea – 2017 Update
[4] Saxon, S., M. Stone, (2017), Container shipping: The next 50 years
[5] Chu, F., et al., (2018), The future of automated ports
[6] Safety4Sea, (2018), PSA Singapore eyes advanced port technologies
More information:
Doe, L., (2018), PSA to Unveil Drones, Robotics and Futuristic Port Tech
Port of Rotterdam, (2020), The Robot is Coming

By Matthew J. Spaniol