A ground-breaking piece of equipment which could save the maritime industry billions of dollars is being launched after a Warwickshire company secured grant funding.
BLOK Container Systems Ltd. has invented and produced a BLOK Spreader which enables four empty shipping containers to be lifted and transported from a ship on to quaysides as a single block, potentially easing congestion in container ports all over the world, as well as reducing emissions and saving billions across the industry.
The company’s work with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub helped to secure grants part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the Coventry & Warwickshire Innovation Programme through Coventry City Counci Innovation Programme.
Jaymie Thakordas, account manager and business mentor with the Growth Hub, said: “The reputation and clarity of vision possessed by the BLOK Container System team is inspiring and we are excited to see just how big an impact their work can have on the maritime industry.”
The company was started just two years ago by Martin Clive-Smith, Henry Reynolds and Selwyn Rowley, who have a combined experience of more than 80 years across engineering and marketing.
Selwyn Rowley, BLOK’s director of sales and marketing, said: “As engineers, Martin and Henry have an impeccable track record and Martin is responsible for more than 140 patents and $2bn sales of container industry products used the world over.
“This is a major innovation that is going to change the maritime sector – it is perhaps the biggest step forward since the introduction of the shipping container as multiple container handling has the potential to revolutionise port handling systems.
“Ports around the world handle 679 million containers annually of which around 24 per cent are handled empty.
“Container terminals charge at least £100 and often much more to lift one container , so the potential savings created by being able to move four at a time rather than one run into the billions.
“We have interest from ports around the world, as well as many country members of the International Maritime Organisation.
“We are confident that this is going to have a huge global impact.
“Ships have become bigger now and carry as many as 20,000 containers but that volume has exacerbated delays at ports and more efficient handling is required. The price of fuel is also going up and tough new environmental standards are being introduced so time savings are essential to allow for sailing slower, the key to fuel saving.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council and LEP board member said: “This is an incredible project carried out by a highly credible team.
“We didn’t just give this grant out with the short-term in mind, and this has the potential to be a game-changer for ports in the longer term.”
Picture caption: L to R Jaymie Thakordas, C&W Growth Hub; Henry Reynolds, BCS; Martin Clive-Smith, BCS; Selwyn Rowley, BCS; James Clive-Smith, BCS and Richard Middleton, Coventry City Council