International port equipment manufacturers point to challenges outside changing trade horizons outside Brexit and The Trump Effect

UK Minister for Transport, Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP, joined port equipment manufacturers from all over the world in London to hear first-hand how industry experts plan to handle the squeeze as globalisation slows.

Industry leaders predicted a growth in protectionism and a slowing down for globalisation, but, they say, it’s a result of the market’s maturity rather than the uncertain climate for trade across the UK, Europe and in the US.

Delegates at the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) AGM 2017, which finished on Friday, heard that demand for container shipping had plateaued and that considerable vessel scrapping initiatives were expected over the next few years.

Mega ships and strategic alliances are behind the consolidation, say industry experts, and the focus on big players is escalating with more shifts to economies of scale in the past 12 months than in the past 12 years

Other game-changers include the Panama Canal opening, uncertainties around new trade deals and new, faster rail services (China to Russia – 17 days by rail compared with 40 days by sea).

PEMA president Ottonel Popesco said: “To function more effectively, port equipment manufacturers, ports and shippers need to establish an open dialogue in which challenges are tackled holistically. The industry needs a platform from which it can effect change and PEMA should be that platform.”

UK Minister for Transport, Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP,

UK Minister for Transport, Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP,

The Transport Minister was invited to attend the event by PEMA director, UK cable manufacturing company Tratos’ CEO Maurizio Bragagni, who pushed for London to host the event.

Dr Bragagni, whose Italian-owned business manufactures in Italy and the UK and trades worldwide, said he felt it was imperative that there was Ministerial representation at this landmark event as new trade agreements are constructed.

During opening remarks the Minister, Mr Hayes, forecast an “era of investment” in port equipment, adding that “deep sea ports are ever more important.” This was the first time a UK government minister has addressed a PEMA audience.

The PEMA forum saw a push for intelligent cross-industry discussion to agree on the best size for ships, expectations for delivery times and supply chain strengthening.

At a House of Commons dinner for PEMA members and guests, Dr Bragagni also welcomed Alberto Costa MP – who hosted the dinner – and George Howarth, MP for Knowsley, home to the company’s UK manufacturing base.

 Alberto Costa MP
Alberto Costa MP

During the two-day event at London’s County Hall speakers urged port manufacturers to agree a common position on optimal sizes of ships for given routes and customer’s delivery-time expectations, to optimise the supply chain.

Delegates heard that while ultra- large container vessels had brought operational efficiencies for shipping lines, such vessels had, in essence, been introduced without full consideration of the cost for ports and terminals and impact on local transport infrastructure.

Tratos was the main sponsor for PEMA AGM 2017.


PEMA members re-elected Ottonel Popesco and Mika Mahlberg from Konecranes president and vice president respectively; and Michael Eckle (Conductix Wampler), Achim Dries (Vahle) and Jens Koering (Treasurer) were elected to the PEMA Board. Maurizio Bragagni (Vice president), and Mike Dempsey confirmed members of the PEMA board.

PEMA board

PEMA board

About PEMA

Founded in 2004, PEMA provides a forum and public voice for the global port equipment and technology sectors. The Association has seen strong growth in recent years, and now has more than 100 member companies representing all facets of the industry, including crane, equipment and component manufacturers; automation, software and technology providers; consultants and other experts.