Drone cookie delivery to Maersk ship

Major shipping line Maersk has announced it has delivered a packet of cookies to a ship at sea off Denmark. Maersk Edgar’s Captain Peder Christensen said “Today it’s cookies. Another time it might be medicine which we need to treat someone on board.”

The drone system is being tested as a method of delivering small packages to ships offshore – perhaps, as indicated by the captain, where there is an urgent requirement for emergency medicine that cannot wait several hours for the ship to come alongside in port.

The test was done near the Danish port of Kalundborg. The drone, an LE4-8X Dual Atex machine built by French company Xamen Technologies, delivered the parcel from a barge some 250 metres away from the ship. The test was originally planned to be from a place onshore a kilometre away from the ship but fog impeded operations. In a statement about the trial, Maersk said, “The original plan to launch from shore was changed because of fog, so the team worked from the barge instead.”

Captain Christensen said, “It’s a totally new step in delivery to vessels.” The shipping company plans to look at future applications for the drones.

According to the company, “delivery of a small parcel over 1km from shore to vessel would take about 1.5 minutes, and the max pay-load of this test drone is 2kg.” If the ship had to race into shore it could take several hours, and getting a helicopter to the ship would cost a lot more than a drone.

Markus Kuhn, Supply Chain Manager at Maersk Tankers, commented: “Drones can make savings in both costs and time. There are high costs for on-board delivery of small parcels, filled with urgent spare parts or mail, because of the need for a barge.”

The report on the Maersk website added: “Costs for a barge are on average USD1,000 and can be higher. That means, drone use could with the current payload bring potential savings of USD 3,000-9,000 per vessel per year.”