One of the primary drivers of the global supply chain is intermodal traffic. Over 52 million tons of freight are moved in the United States every day. Between 2004 and 2013, the number of domestic containers in the United States has nearly doubled, from 119,000 to 208,700. Which means that every freight company is looking for ways to move freight in the most efficient, cost-effective and timely fashion.
As global trade increases, shippers are leveraging economy of scales and technology to make larger and better trains, airplanes and boats. While Malcom McLean’s first container ship, the “Ideal X”, moved 58 containers in 1956, modern ships can carry up to 320 times more. Which is why we decided to highlight the biggest intermodal (and some that are not exactly intermodal) freight movers of today:
The Largest Ship in the World: Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller
The newest Triple-E addition to the Maersk family, the MV Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller first set sail on July 2, 2013. About 399 meters long, it would take the fastest runner in the world, Usain Bolt, over 40 seconds to run from end to end. The world is not exactly ready for the Møller; only 16 ports in the world can deal with Triple-E size vessels and even those don’t necessarily have the right gantry cranes. Maersk is putting all its chips in on this next-generation ship – it is only the first of 20 similar ships ordered from Daewoo. Hopefully, Maersk will enjoy the title while it lasts. China Shipping Container Lines has ordered five 19,000 TEU ships, with the first expected for delivery in November 2014.
The Longest Truck in the World: The PowerTrain
Operating at the Granites Gold Mine in Northern Territory, Australia, the “K” Regulation trucks are powered by a 600 hp Cummis engine, as well as a 400 hp Cummis engine farther behind. The 7 semi-trailers, powered by 1000 hp, can carry a whopping 453 tons of goods. Don’t expect to see this pass you while you drive though; the “K Regulation” is only permitted for operation on private property.
If you expand the scope beyond operational road trains, Australia still takes the cake. On February 18th, 2006, an Aussie Mack truck pulled 112 semi trailers in Queensland. The trailers, which weighed in at 1,279 tons and stretched almost one and a half kilometers, were pulled about 100 meters.
The Largest Plane in the World: The “AN-225 “Mriya”
Built by the Societ Union in 1989, the AN-225, or Mriya, is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft that holds the world record for the larest commerical cargo load ever (247,000 kilograms). The AN-225 has been flying since December 1988 and played a role in the Soviet space program. It flew it’s first commerical flight from Germanny to Oman in January 2002, carrying 216,000 prepared meals for the American military. It has since been used to ship locomotives, generatoris and disaster relief supplies.
The massive plane only requires 6 crew members to operate, is about 84 meters long, 18 meters high and is powered by 6 turbofans. Fully fueled, it can travel 15,400 km. In April, 2013, the Russian government revived plans to use the Mriya as an in-air launchpad for it’s space program. The Myria still flies regularly; it was used in January 2014 by DB Schenker to ship two streetcars from China to Turkey.
The Longest Train in the World: BHP Iron Ore
The land down under seems to excel at more than just trucks, holding the record for the longest and the heaviest load on a train. In 2001, a BHP Iron Ore train pulled 682 cars about 275 kilometers, using 8 engines. The length of the train? 7.3 kilometers. That’s over 4/5 the height of Mount Everest. It weighed in at 99,732 tons, about 30% of the mass of the Empire State Building.
Which is all impressive, as long as you don’t get stuck waiting at a crossroad for it to pass.