What’s next for the container industry

The shipping industry is in transition.  It is still consolidating and competes more on price rather than service and quality.

Søren Skou, CEO of A.P. Moller – Maersk expounded on the strategies that have cemented Maersk’s position as a global leader in shipping and ports.  He entered on the topic, “The container industry—what’s next?”
He was the keynote speaker at the Singapore Maritime Lecture held in conjunction with Singapore Maritime Week 2018.
Skou started off to say that the shipping industry is an industry in transition.  It is still consolidating and competes more on price rather than service and quality.
He said the company’s focus on new technologies will transform transport and logistics industries for the benefit of both customers and the greater global maritime sector.

Impact of digitisation

Skou described the impact of digitisation on the container industry culture as positive. He pointed to the following instances.

  • Greater ability to improve customer experience with integrated online booking systems and instant price quoting tools
  • Supply chain ecosystems benefiting from digitised information and simplified documentation flows
  • New industry standards for downfalls and no-shows reducing costs and delays

Effective governance model

With the implementation of the IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap regulation, Skou noted that the industry must anticipate significantly increased fuel costs and capital investments.
Maersk is preparing itself for the IMO 2020 timeline on the 0.5% sulphur cap relating to scrubbers, LNG and availability of compliant fuel.
However, it recognises that the industry will have to depend on refineries making compliant fuel available so companies can buy clean fuel from them.
Hence, he suggested that any real solution would only work with an effective governance model that ensures compliance by all parties.

Improving customer experience

In response to the challenges of eCommerce, Skou communicated confidence.  The industry would continue to do well if it focussed on improving customer experience and processes.
For example, the Internet of Things would allow customers to control the temperature of their cargo in reefer (refrigerated) containers.
On the topic of cybersecurity, Skou stated the need for a comprehensive plan and underlined a three-pronged approach.  This includes the following factors.

  • Strong defence in the form of robust detection software
  • Ability to isolate future incidents from affecting the company’s global system
  • Diligence in backing up data to rapidly rebuild systems

Therefore, Skou remains confident that innovation will create new commercial opportunities, enabled by greater connectivity, competition and reliability in the global shipping network.

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