ContainersEuropePorts and Logistics

Invention lifts multiple boxes like a six-pack of beer

A new system which treats lifting four or six empty containers as a single block using the same principles as the lifting of a six-pack of beer cans has been developed with the company behind the invention claiming the development can save the industry billions of dollars while also improving safety for terminals and shipping lines.

“Moving relatively light empty boxes, which represent over 20% of total in port container moves often one by one with powerful cranes and vehicles is incredibly inefficient,” said BLOK-Container Systems (BCS) sales and marketing director, Selwyn Rowley.

Repositioning empty containers costs the shipping industry $15-$20bn a year – up to 8% of a shipping line’s operating costs – according to Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

“By deploying BLOKs of containers linked with BLOK-Locks and specially developed BLOK spreaders and trailers the whole container handling system can be speeded up dramatically using existing cranes and terminal infrastructure which will save money, speed up vessel turnaround, ease congestion and make the whole operation safer on land and sea,” he added.

Martin Clive-Smith, CEO of BCS said: “This is a rare project in which the whole industry will benefit from improved safety and commerce, with minimal changes in infrastructure and practices required.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I look forward to seeing comments from terminal operations people on this. It seems to make obvious sense, but I have two questions, both obvious ones:

    A. Are the boxes grouped before they are brought under the crane, if so, how?

    B. How do the boxes in the single lift fit down the cell guides?

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