Recent GB planning applications for container terminal expansions appear to have followed a precautionary “predict and provide” approach by terminal owners. Construction, however, will be more closely aligned with actual demand and the availability of financing, leading – given the recent economic turmoil – to doubts as to where, when and indeed if the planned expansions will actually take place. This lecture will look at the future for GB container terminals and consider the potential impact of “deglobalisation” on container flows, the effect of changes in the vessel size distribution on service patterns, and the role for automation in new and existing container terminals. Future shifts in trade flows will initially be considered, in the light of a possible slowing or even reversing of the outsourcing of manufacturing to the Far East, and China in particular. This will be followed by a consideration of the impact of the introduction of larger container carriers on port choice as shipping lines change their services to make more efficient use of their vessels. The knock-on effects for GB-oriented supply chains will also be looked at. Finally, future changes within the container terminal will be discussed, giving particular attention to the role for automation.

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