Container on Barge Delivery (COB)
Container on Barge (COB) is vital to Sea Point. Sea Point uses the barges in vital operational steps. The barges receive the containers from the ships sorted by either the rail road company, for regional truck delivery, or longer haul all water delivery along the inland water way system or along the Gulf Coast. The graphic below illustrates the potential of the COB all water delivery system.
The Potential of the COB All Water Delivery System
A standard open hopper river barge can carry 1600 short tons on its 9 foot draft in a 12 foot navigational channel. In terms of containers, a river barge will usually "cube out" before it drafts out. This means that the cubic volume of the containers will fill the barge prior to reaching 1600 short tons. A standard river box barge will carry eighty-one 20' containers or a maximum mix of about fifty 20' and 40' containers. Northbound barge tows routinely accommodate 20 loaded barges. A 100 rail car unit train can accommodate a maximum of 300 containers (two 20 ft and one 40ft per car). The same number of containers can be carried in 6 full barges. River tow rates are considerable cheaper than the best rail rates.
For the Shipper
For the shipper, there is a trade off between the savings on inland transportation costs that COB represents and the additional time required to complete the all water transit is the question. For instance, after a container is loaded to a rail car in the New Orleans area it will be available at the Memphis ramp within 24 to 36 hours. For approximately 1/3 the cost and an additional 3 days (4 days total), the same container would be available at the Port of Memphis.
COB also represents one of the inland transportation systems options of the immediate future. COB uses the existing river and inland water way system which does not require as much infrastructure and support as do the rail and highway systems. Additionally, it is an ideal way to transport hazardous materials since the barges remain on the river and any spillage would be confined in a barge or lost in the river. Lastly, it is more "green" than rail or truck requiring less gas/diesel fuel than rail or truck and certainly has less of an impact on already congested highways and rail systems. The figure below illustrates the differences between the three modes of inland transportation.
Differences Between the Three Modes of Inland Transportation
Gateway Ship Cargo
A Container Ship Unloading 2500 Containers and Loading 2500
Requires a Combination of the Following:
5000 "18 Wheelers" Creating 220 Miles of Traffic (150' Between Trucks)
18 Miles of Double Stack Rail Cars
6 Tows of 18 Barges Creating __ Mile of River Traffic
COB and "Critical Mass"
COB has been tried in various forms several times with little or mixed success. For COB to be successful, it requires a "critical mass" of containers at one end of the system. This critical mass serves as an initial source of containers for the barges and ultimately a destination. Sea Point with its Asian carriers' direct port calls will have this critical mass with the imported containers. Again, it will serve as a destination for Asia bound export containers and empties.
For information on specific savings for your circumstances and options, for both import and export please contact us.