Eimskip, Shipping Containers, and Portland, Maine (Oh My!)

Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to tour Eimskip, a major transportation company that serves the Northern Atlantic. I was very interested to see how Portland, Maine (our home turf!) has become an integral part of international trade and learn more about how Bulletin Bottle is impacted by businesses like Eimskip.

Eimskip was founded in 1914 and runs a network of 63 offices in 20 countries and operates a fleet of 22 vessels. Not too shabby! Their presence in Portland is large and proud.

Portland used to be a hotbed for transportation, but as ports in Boston and points south exploded, the need for comprehensive transportation logistics in Maine died off. Ironically, those same ports are now overcrowded and uber-busy, and a longer lead time and more money are required to ship there. Plus, while Portland is less than 2 hours from Boston, our friends in northern Maine (3, 4, 6 hours + from us) were feeling more isolated than ever. So in the past few years, Portland has re-emerged as an international port—larger than it ever was before. If you look at a map, you’ll see that Iceland (Eimskip’s home base) is literally halfway between Portland, Maine and Europe. It makes sense that Eimskip’s presence here is growing.

Domestically, Eimskip provides a valuable transportation link between northern Maine and the rest of the country. Did you know that most of the lumber seen at Home Depot stores along the Eastern Seaboard come from northern Maine? Internationally, Eimskip facilitates importing and exporting of goods to and from New England and beyond. It’s typically the same price to ship containers from Maine to Europe than it is to take that same shipment to California via truck or rail! 

It was neat to check out the equipment used to move the huge shipping containers around the yard. I see the giant crane every time I travel on the bridge next to Eimskip, but to be standing next to it was something else! I always assumed that magnets move those containers, but it is actually an invention called a twistlock. It’s a pretty simple male-female connection that turns (either manually or automatically, depending on what is moving it) to lock the container into place—whether that place is on a ship, on top of another container, or on a crane waaay above the ground. The technology is the same on trailers, reach stackers, and ships—the twistlocks engage and keep the container where it belongs.

In addition to 20 or 40 foot shipping containers, companies like Eimskip are paid to haul all sorts of non-conforming shaped items. From carnival rides to movie props, fancy cars to outbuildings—I saw lots of things in queue to be shipped overseas. While our custom water bottles originate mainly from the USA or China, I like to think that there’s someone in Asia touring a transportation facility like Eimskip, learning about items like water bottles being exported over to our shores. It really is a small world, made even smaller by secondary ports like ours here in Portland, Maine.

I’d love to talk more about this awesome day! Contact me if you have any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them!

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