On Wednesday, truckload giant Schneider National announced it would manage the North American end of a trans-Atlantic freight network being created by a company called FastShip Inc.
Another dot-com deal?
No way. Turns out FastShip isn't a new logistics concept or another Internet venture promising to change everything but your linens. FastShip is about genuine fast ocean-going ships, four of them to start with, that travel at 38 knots -- 70% faster than the 22 knots of a normal container ship.
Beginning in 2004, according to plans, each ship will cross the Atlantic three times a week. Rather than containers and cranes, FastShip will reduce port time with trailer roll-on-roll-off service at dedicated facilities. Initially, the virtual ferry service for freight will operate between Cherbourg in France and Philadelphia.
FastShip promises time-definite delivery with air freight speed at something closer to ocean rates. The resulting just-in-time service could make it possible for more European and U.S. businesses to compete in each other's supply chains. It can also create another, more demanding market for trucking in and out of U.S. ports.
The ships will be built by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. of San Diego and are set to begin tests in 2003.
Think it won't work?
The last time Schneider National bought into a new technology, they adopted a satellite communications system from a startup company called Qualcomm Inc. That time they changed the face of U.S. trucking.
Will FastShip revolutionize trans-Atlantic Trade?