Large-scale cruise ships are not easily replenished. From the time they return to port from their latest voyage until they can be unloaded, cleaned and completely replenished can take upwards of five hours or more. That’s five hours of unproductive down time for an asset whose costs can run into the $ billions. Each minute that ship sits in port costs its owners dearly. From a financial perspective, a quicker, more efficient replenishment system might be justified but, if operational and environmental performance are also improved simultaneously, then justification becomes that much easier. The same holds true for naval applications where timing may be of the essence on a more acute scale.
The history of shipbuilding had ships being designed from the inside out with little thought towards replenishment. A ship’s galley and its stores were designed much like that of an efficient, high volume, land-based kitchen where space constraints and replenishment speed were of little concern and the environment was limitless. For the cruise ships and navies of today replenishment speed and operational efficiency are much more important than yesteryear.
The Cargo Carousel System (CCS) on-board a ship can lower replenishment times in port from about five hours down to less than one hour and improve cubic space utilization dramatically. The CCS eliminates the need for aisles in walk-in pantries, fridges, freezers and storage areas and then frees up more space for re-use as modules are depleted of their stock. Enough clean linens could be stored for an entire voyage with dirty linens being stored until returning to port to eliminate on-board laundry facilities including the staff required to operate them which need to be housed and fed throughout the entire journey. This can be done much more efficiently on shore and with less harm to the environment. The same would be true for dirty dishes and cookware. If designed properly on-board, more than one CCS could open directly into the ship’s galley using one or more for frozen, one or more for chilled and one or more for room-temperature storage that is easily accessed by staff without ever leaving the galley.
The advantages of the CCS on land would be the flexibility and efficiency of pre-stocking multiple Carousels for the next voyage. The suppliers of produce, meats and baked goods could be given empty modules from the Carousel to pre-stock with metal, sanitized trays that fit into the racks of the CCS minimizing unnecessary packaging and saving time from the current requirements of doing this on-board. As any supplier delivers a full, pre-stocked module they exchange it for an empty one to begin the cycle over again. Once the modules are delivered, the trays are available to mix and match as required for the next voyage(s). Modules can be separated for insertion and storage into a freezer container or a temperature-controlled container as they await loading of the entire containers for the next ship(s). This allows more time for inspections and verification of inventory before ship departures and provides more efficient and accurate inventory management in the warehouse. Intermodal containers can also be stacked side-by-side to eliminate most of the aisles in a warehouse too, providing much more efficient cubic space utilization in a warehouse setting.
Getting supplies onto a floating vessel can be slow and labor intensive and, the bigger the vessel, the bigger the problem. The limited space on-board a vessel also makes recycling difficult. Space comes at a premium so storing recyclable materials is often overlooked as a viable use of space but the CCS creates storage space as its initial contents are depleted. Dockside replenishment for naval or cruise ship applications can be faster and far more efficient with pre-stocked containers waiting to be swapped out with spent units in the supply or reverse chains of the marine industry. The RFID tags and atmospheric sensors that are built into the CCS are ideal for managing inventory replenishment as they can tell what’s available on board the ship or in the warehouse so requirements can be determined long before the ship even arrives at port. The modules from the CCS can also be swapped out individually as needed.
The framework of the CCS will be certified to ISO standards to ensure that any module will fit within the framework of any other CCS. This interoperability between systems applies between companies, between countries and even between militaries and is probably one of the most unique characteristics of the CCS. This is an imperative for military or disaster relief and humanitarian aid missions in different countries around the world. And, the fact that loading docks are not required, simply adds to that imperative. NATO allies can supply or receive modules from any other member creating additional business opportunities.
The framework of the CCS is ISO standardized but the modules that travel within the framework can be as varied as the applications for its use. From a crossbar to hang clothes on, to a rack to carry trays or plastic totes of varying depths and sizes, with or without refrigeration, the CCS leaves the door wide open for others to collaborate on new applications and designs. The same holds true for the software and sensor side of the CCS. With the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics all gaining acceptance and sophistication the possibilities to add to the capabilities of the CCS are virtually endless.
Our Application Programming Interface allows seamless integration with other Transportation Management, Warehouse Management or Enterprise Resource Planning systems to invite any software developer/supplier to the marine industry to bring their own ideas and benefits to the industry. This creates job opportunities both, at home and abroad and in many different fields and develops a sustainable value chain that doubles the cubic space utilization in any warehouse or transport trailer, reduces deforestation (wooden pallets use more of the annual hardwood harvest than all other uses combined) and reduces greenhouse gas emissions dramatically. We have conservatively quantified an estimate of the GHG emission reduction we could achieve at more than 8 billion tons annually in the U.S. alone if only a fraction of the transport fleet utilized the CCS. The calculations can be viewed in the Industry Applications tab.
The entire CCS will be made of recyclable materials with a planned 10-year life cycle and a pooling program similar to wooden pallet pools for maintenance and servicing. This creates a sustainability program that eliminates wooden pallets to reduce deforestation while minimizing empty back hauls and partial loads. The reverse chain is built into the CCS allowing the proper handling of recyclable materials or anything coming back down the chain (mail, recyclables, replacement parts, perishable foods, returns, dated items, damaged goods, etc.).
The circular economy is a concept that has been proven to be beneficial environmentally, socially and economically. The CCS builds on this concept by providing an infrastructure that fits well with existing assets and processes to realize these benefits without stranding existing assets in the wake of development. There is no better system of replenishment at-sea or dockside for naval or commercial maritime applications than the Cargo Carousel System.