Fifty years after first analysing container shipping, consultant McKinsey has called on the industry to conduct another assessment in the light of modern disruptive elements like digitisation. Originally, the firm advised the then British Transport Docks Board (BTDB) to rethink its approach to containerisation.

It seems the message today is much the same. Among its predictions for the next 50 years, it notes autonomous 50,000 teu ships – “perhaps alongside modular, drone-like floating containers” – with volumes between two and five times what they are today. Short-haul intraregional traffic will increase, it suggests, while container flows within the Far East will remain huge. The second-most significant tradelane may link the region to Africa, with a stopover in South Asia. It also predicts there may be just three or four major container shipping companies.

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