American Steamship Company pioneered the use of self-unloading vessels and was the first shipping company on the Great lakes to introduce this innovative technology during the 1930s. By the1950s, Great Lakes self-unloading vessels were being constructed in large numbers.
Shipping companies adopted self-unloader technology to improve efficiency and to enable vessels to accommodate a broader range of dry-bulk product lines. Before the 1950s, Great Lakes vessels almost exclusively served the grain and iron ore/steel industries.
Today, self-unloading vessels deliver dozens of distinctive dry-bulk products to virtually every conceivable destination throughout the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway system. In all cases, dry-bulk commodities are discharged without the need for shore-side unloading equipment. Any waterfront property, with proper docking facilities and a useable draft of approximately 25 feet, represents a viable market opportunity.
The self-unloader's inherent productivity and versatility is demonstrated by the large number of cities, towns and ports that appear on the Great Lakes map above, and the hundreds of companies and dozens of products that these locations represent.