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digital age

Can container shipping reinvent for the digital age?

In 1967, the British Transport Docks Board (BTDB) commissioned McKinsey & Company to assess the impact of a recent development from the United States: container boxes. The first purpose built ships for them were being launched, and a few US lines were carrying these novelties on their regular service. 

McKinsey & Company predicted:

Containerised cargo is effectively becoming homogenous, like other bulk cargoes, and is subject to the same economies of scale. Economics of scale will result in this concentrated cargo being handled by a small number of large organisations. Efficient use of expensive containers will require extensive route networks under unified control to allow load balancing.”

Now that standardised containers have been introduced in the shipping industry, the rush to ‘get on the bandwagon’ will probably lead to substantial overexpansion.

If container ships follow the tanker trend, ships of more than 10,000-container capacity could be available.

Feeder services will tend to replace direct calls when the large container ships come into service.

Rotterdam is an example of a European port which is in a good position to fill a major transoceanic role.

The role of British ports may tend to become that of feeders to the Continent…. Proximity of British East Coast ports to Europe will dictate their use.

In their October 2017 report they posed the question: In 1967, containers were disrupting the shipping business, so the players had to rethink everything. Now it’s digital, big data, and the Internet of Things. Is it time to rethink everything again? 

In 1956, the first ship to transport containers, named the Ideal X, carried only 58 of them. Since then, container-ship capacity has grown 370-fold: today’s largest vessels can hold more than 20,000 TEUs. Larger vessels provide greater cost efficiencies in fuel and crews, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions per container, and enable hub-and-spoke network strategies. Moreover, as operators collaborate in alliances, putting a single large vessel instead of two small ones on a given route has its advantages.

So, how much longer will this trend toward growth in capacity continue? In the long term, three factors could limit it.

The first is that returns to scale decline with increasing size, so a move from 20,000 to 40,000 TEUs wouldn’t reduce unit costs as much as a move from 10,000 to 20,000 TEUs.

Second, the narrowness and shallowness of some of the world’s waterways impose physical constraints: for example, the Strait of Malacca (between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra) has a minimum depth of 25 meters, the most modern channels of the Suez Canal a depth of 24 meters. The latest designs for vessels that carry 24,000 TEUs have a depth of 16 meters, which leaves scope for further growth in capacity.

Third, over the past decade, the blitz for bigger vessels has strained terminal and port operators, forcing them to invest in new cranes, dredging equipment, reinforced quay walls, and extended berths. Unloading containers from bigger ships takes longer because cranes must reach farther across vessels, thus extending berth occupancy and reducing productivity.

On balance, we do not view 20,000 TEUs as the natural end point for container ships—50,000-TEU ones are not unthinkable in the next half-century. However, progress will probably be much slower than it was in the past decade: overcapacity means that new ordering will be slower over the next five to ten years. Lower slot costs materialise only when demand fills up larger ships, which hasn’t happened recently. But if demand catches up with supply, as it may well do in the early 2020s, the logic of scale will once again drive orders for bigger and bigger ships. Nonetheless, since 40 percent of all shipyard capacity is unutilised, and it’s not conceivable that governments will allow shipyard bankruptcies on a large scale, they could find a way to prompt some level of new ordering.

The size of boxes could also increase. From the original six-foot-long Conex box the US military used in the 1950s, they have grown to 20 and now 40 feet and above. The limitation on box size is compatibility with road, rail, and other modes of transport. On US and Chinese roads, the maximum box length is 53 feet, so containers of this size are common for US domestic trade. As road networks improve and trucking becomes autonomous on major routes, we may well see containers 60 or more feet long, as well as wider and taller containers.

Wholly automated terminal and inland operations, with self-driving trucks (and perhaps even self- driving containers or “hyperloops”) transporting containers to inland distribution centres, will probably become the norm in the next couple of decades. Self-loading trucks, arriving just in time to pick up the next container without waiting or moving around unproductively at terminals, would improve the interface between ports and inland transport. Imagine a terminal with no stacks in the yard; instead, customs would pre-clear boxes digitally, and autonomous trucks would take them straight from ships and out to customers.

Advances in the use of data and analytics will bring further step changes in productivity. Shipping companies could heed the example of today’s state- of-the-art aircraft, which generate up to a terabyte of data per flight. Coupled with the introduction of more sensors, the better usage of the data that ships and containers generate would allow enhancements such as optimising voyages in real time (by taking into account weather, currents, traffic, and other external factors), smarter stowage and terminal operations, and predictive maintenance. Data could also improve the coordination of arrivals at port—a major benefit, since 48 per- cent of container ships arrive more than 12 hours behind schedule, thus wasting the carriers’ fuel and underutilising the terminal operators’ labor and quay space.

Data can create additional value for customers too. Full transparency on shipments, from one end of the value chain to the other, would be an enormous boon to carriers, forwarders, and shippers alike, giving them access to real-time information and enabling them to predict a container’s availability, arrival times, and so forth. Some ports (such as Antwerp, Hamburg, and Singapore) are already starting to share information in real time across data ecosystems, which could eventually extend throughout the whole industry. That would create a truly integrated end-to-end flow of containers and therefore make the industry more productive by reducing handovers, waiting times, and unnecessary handling.

A data-enabled shipping industry could also support its customers’ supply chains in important ways— but that will require a truly new order of performance and efficiency. The real-time visibility of all container movements, reliable forecasts, and integrated flow management will pave the way for flexible, dynamic supply chains that all but eliminate waiting times and inefficiencies. This achievement will be especially beneficial for industries (such as automotive) that have increasingly complex supply chains or for those with special needs (suchas cold chains). It will also allow smart logistics providers to differentiate themselves and earn premiums. But these opportunities won’t appeal to all customers; other sectors will demand only basic logistics services at the lowest possible cost.

By 2067, we believe shipping will have some or all of these characteristics: 

Autonomous 50,000-TEU ships will plow the seas—perhaps alongside modular, dronelike floating containers—in a world where the volume of container trade is anything from two to five times greater than it is today.

Short-haul intraregional traffic will increase as manufacturing footprints disperse more widely because of converging global incomes and the increasing use of automation and robotics. Container flows within the Far East will continue to be huge, and the secondmost significant trade lane may link that region to Africa, with a stopover in South Asia.

After multiple value-destroying cycles of overcapacity and consolidation, three or four major container-shipping companies might emerge. These businesses could be either digitally enabled independents with a strong customer orientation and innovative commercial practices or small subsidiaries of tech giants seamlessly blending the digital and physical realms. Freight forwarding as a stand- alone business will be virtually extinct, since digital interactions will have reduced the need for intermediaries to manage logistics services for multiple participants in the value chain. Across the industry, all winners will have fully digitised their customer interactions and operating systems and will be closely connected via data ecosystems.

A fully autonomous transport chain will extend from initial loading, stowage, and sailing all the way to unloading directly into autonomous trains and trucks and drone-enabled last- mile deliveries.

The needs of customers will diverge: some will expect their shippers to be fully integrated into their supply chains—and be willing to pay a premium for that—while others continue to demand sea freight at the lowest possible cost. Both sets of customers will expect transparency and reliability to be the norm, not the exception.

What therefore has to be done to move shipping and containerisation further into the digital age?

First, invest in digital, which is the main way to differentiate products, disintermediate value chains, improve customer service, raise productivity, and cut costs. The risk is that tech giants and would-be digital disruptors will move faster than incumbents and capture most of the value from customer relationships.

Second, think about consolidation: the industry’s natural end game may involve fewer, larger operators. The past few decades of explosive trade growth created an environment that could sustain many players. Now that growth has slowed, the industry must rationalise overcapacity. Although some companies and investors could be candidates to lead the next wave of consolidation, becoming a target may sometimes be better for shareholders than struggling to be the winner at any cost. McKinsey research shows that from 2000 to 2015, in a range of industries, the value from deals was nine percentage points higher for average target companies than for average acquirers.21

Third, integrate. Some next-generation innovations now on the drawing board require careful orchestration across the value chain. Carriers and terminal operators share a particularly rich agenda: bigger vessels paired with investments in infrastructure for terminals, complete transparency on ship arrivals and berthing (thanks to geospatial analytics), and larger containers. Integrated logistics providers could make today’s freight forwarders largely irrelevant by mastering the complexity and the customer interface.

Fourth, be bold. The shipping industry has been built on the vision of audacious leaders with the per- severance to sail through the storms. It now faces a wave of digital disruption. The ability to convey a sense of purpose for employees, to create optimism about the journey ahead, and to maintain a steady course will be the hallmarks of the leaders shaping the industry for the next.

McKinsey and Company’s 1967 predictions were on point, so their analysis of the next 50 years of evolvement cannot be ignored. These changes seem massive and unachievable at the moment, but that would have been the case 50 years ago as well, and the industry is unrecognisable from then.  It is exciting to watch what the next years have in store, and the advances that can be made to make sure that shipping does truly come alive during the digital age.

To view the full report please go here, where you can download the full report at the bottom of the page.

Southampton welcomes its largest container ship

Wednesday 8th November marked the maiden arrival of the Milan Maersk, the largest container ship to visit Southampton.

The Milan Maersk, which is 399m long, 58.6m wide, and can carry 20568 20′ containers, weighs a staggering 214,000 tonnes and is less than a metre shorter than the world’s longest vessel.

The vessel departed Shanghai on October 1, less than a fortnight after entering service, and called into Ningbo, Hong Kong and Yantian in China before arriving in Colombo, Sri Lanka on October 17. It then passed through the Suez Canal before stopping in Felixtowe on November 2 and across the North Sea to Rotterdam.  From Rotterdam, the ship made her way to Southampton, where it headed back to sea in the early hours of this Thursday morning towards Bremerhaven and Rotterdam before heading back to Suez and the Far East.

Milan Maersk is a new Triple-E class container ship. The Triple-E class is among the largest and most efficient fleet of container vessels in the world. In 2016 the largest container vessel calling in Southampton had a capacity for 16,000 containers. And this year we have so far welcomed MOL Triumph and MOL Trust with a capacity for 20,170 containers. Milan Maersk is one of the largest vessels of her type in the world with a capacity for 20,568 containers – that’s nearly 400 containers more than MOL Triumph.

The megaship belongs to the second generation of Maersk Line’s Triple-E class (Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved) and is part of a series of eleven container ships, which will be delivered by the end of 2018.

Milan Maersk’s propulsion and software system creates energy savings which aims to reduce carbon emissions per container vessel by 35 percent.

ABP Southampton Director, Alastair Welch said: ‘Milan Maersk is just the latest of these new mega ships to visit the Port of Southampton. Not only are these vessels bigger, they are much cleaner too and we are seeing more of these new generation of ships visiting across the port’s key trades. The Port of Southampton is ideally suited to welcome these megaships.’

To view a video of the arrival please click here

Source: Daily Echo

Images are courtesy of Solent Photographer Andrew Sassoli Walker

container port

August was an all time high for container ports

August’s Drewry global container port throughput index reached an all-time high of 126.8 points.

The August figure, the highest since inception of the index in January 2012, was nearly 7 points up on August 2016 (120.0 points) and more than 11 points up on the August 2015 level of around 116 points.

The global index climbed 0.5% from July’s figure of 126.2.

The month-on-month index figures for China and Europe dropped 0.5% in August – totalling 136.1 (down from 136.8) and 114.2 (down from 114.7) respectively, but show more than 5% annual increase.

All regions showed at least 5% annual growth in August 2017. However, 2016 was a weak comparison in many cases, said Drewry.

It added that Africa – with 117.4 points in August, up from 102.7 in August 2016 (107.2 in July 2017) – is showing double digit annual growth. It pointed out, however, that the sample size is small.

North America showed the highest annual change of 7.0%, with 137.7 points, up from 128.7 in August 2016.

Its monthly change of 2.8% is equal to Latin America, which jumped from 110.4 points in July 2017 to 113.5 in August.

Latin America saw the third highest annual change of 6.1%, with 107.0 points in August 2016.

The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 220 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes.

The Container Throughput Index of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and the ISL – Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics showed a further substantial increase in September 2017 from 128.5 to 129.7 (revised figures). Compared to the beginning of 2017 it gained almost six points. A similarly strong plus was last achieved in 2010.

The index is based on data continuously collected from world container ports by ISL as part of its market monitoring. Because large parts of international merchandise trade are transported by ship, the development of port handling is a good indicator for world trade.

As many ports release information about their activities only two weeks after the end of the respective month, the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index is a reliable early indicator for the development of international merchandise trade and hence for the activity of the global economy. Together, the 82 ports covered in the index account for about six out of ten containers handled worldwide. The flash estimate for September is based on data reported by 45 ports, accounting for close to 80% of the total index volume.

The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index for October 2017 will be released on 21 November 2017.

•Source ISL / Port Strategy

 

sea freight

Sea Freight – Why use us?

Have you been quoted ocean freight for your November sailings yet?

Please contact a member of our team as we have very competitive rates for this month – enquiries@supremefreight.com / 02380 337778

We handle all types of cargo including:

  • Full Container Load (FCL)
  • Less Container Load (LCL)
  • NVOCC Groupage Systems
  • Out of gauge
  • Abnormal Loads
  • Hazardous Cargos

We have long standing relationships with a global network of agents at all origin ports which means that we can offer you the best possible service.  We have over 30 years experience in the shipping industry, and we can arrange all the necessary documentation to make sure that your goods are transported as seamlessly as possible.

What are the advantages of sending your goods by sea?

It is typically the cheaper option – larger volumes mean cheaper rates.

It is good if you don’t need quick shipments and have long lead times

It’s more environmentally aware –  and reduces ecological footprint

The capacity is much higher in container ships which means much higher load volumes

There are not many limits on what can be brought in via container – all types of goods can be shipped including dangerous/hazardous/restricted goods.

It is an ideal way of transporting heavy or bulky goods, or large amounts at once

 

 

golden week

ALERT: Golden week and the implications for shippers

As part of celebrations for golden week, also called National Day, a major holiday is coming up in China from Saturday 1st October for a week, officially ending on the 7th but with effects lasting until the 10th.

It has been celebrated in mainland China and Hong Kong since 2000. The holiday was implemented by the Government to encourage domestic tourism and allow families to make long distance trips. This means that businesses come to a standstill.

All businesses will be closed, cargo flights are cancelled and ports operate on basic crews. Shipping quotes will be hard to obtain as nothing moves in or out.  Vessels are usually under capacity at this time so don’t sail.

Our advice is plan ahead! Contact us as soon as possible for rates and availability to secure your shipment in time. Please also be advised that there will be a back log of orders and freight after golden week which will mean that space will be at a premium.  If a shipment is time critical it is important to be organised before next week.

You can submit an enquiry through our website, send us an email or call us on 02380 337778.

We look forward to hearing from you.

future of shipping

The future of UK Shipping

At the end of London International shipping week, the transport secretary Chris Grayling set out his thoughts on the future of UK shipping. 

His speech focused on the changes in transport, and how the maritime industry is not only contributing to that change, but are increasingly leading it.

His first point concerned new technology and the advances in maritime autonomy.  Today, 90% of accidents at sea are caused by human error, and so there could be a huge safety benefit to keeping away from the risky routes.  Drones that are being increasingly deployed in other areas could also be used over our seas, inspecting ships and further improving safety.

This increase in efficiency could make maritime even more competitive against road freight, which in turn offers big environmental benefits.  Grayling also points out that this would obviously lead to concern over the effect of automation on jobs, and that these concerns quite rightly should be taken seriously.  However, he continues by saying that there is also evidence that rather than destroying jobs, automation creates wealth, and that wealth creates opportunity, and opportunity means new jobs. So, the seafarer of today might be the unmanned vessel operator of tomorrow – supervising several ships from a control station on-shore. He or she might help design intelligent software, or contribute to new naval architecture.

These type of new roles require different skills, and that is why it makes sense to invest in training. This week maritime industries have been called on to double to amount of people taken on as apprentices, and this will improve the capability of the work force. The government has also written to heads of maritime businesses and training colleges asking what more can be done to increase the number of women working in the industry. In the UK, too, of our 14,000 certified officers, only 3% are women. Only 4% of our technical officers are women. Of our engine officers, only 1% are women. The industry is missing out on 50% of the talent, and the potential progress that could be made.

Brexit and the EU was also a pertinent point.  Grayling believes that both the EU and the UK will work better as friendly neighbours than as part of a strained union. For instance, in less than 2 years, for the first time in more than 4 decades, the UK will begin to enjoy an independent trade policy.  Our departure from the EU will allow us to build those closer trading ties with countries around the world.  Trading with our neighbours in the EU is important, but trading with other countries such as the USA, Australia, China, India, Mexico, South Korea, India and Brazil will enable us to expand our trade, receiving the worlds goods, and exporting our own. That is why the government announced that it wants to draw up plans for the maritime industry stretching up until 2050.

To read the full report please go here

container port Southampton

Southampton on the list of top container growth in 2016

During 2016 126 ports handled more than 1 million teu containers.

According to DynaLiners report entitled millionaires roundup, 82 ports had experienced growth in the year with 5 ports showing growth of 25% or more.

These ports were Chittagong, Bangladesh (26%), London (26%), Salalah, Oman (29%), Tangshan, China (27%) and Southampton (26%).

14 ports reached over 10m teu. These included Antwerp, Belgium; Busan, South Korea; Dubai, UAE; Hong Kong; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Port Kelang, Malaysia; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Singapore and Tianjin, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Ningbo, Qingdao and Shanghai, China.

New entrants to the table included Itajai with 1,104,100 teu and growth of 12%, Izmit with 1,143,000 teu and growth of 16%, Port Qasim with 1,124,000 teu and growth of 16% and Qinzhou with 1,138,000 teu and growth of 24%.

No ports dropped out of the table but 43 saw negative growth on 2015, of which Freeport (Bahamas) recorded the largest decline of -14%. Lagos and Port Said each had a 12% decline, Santos had a 10% decline, Tanjung Pelepas had a 9% decline, Hai Phong had an 8% decline, Lianyungang had a 7% decline, Long Beach had a 6% decline and Kingston had a 5% decline.

The total teu handled by the ports was 589,350,800, with other ports not on the list accounting for 117,649,200.

China topped the list of teu growth by country in 2016, maintaining its position from 2015.

The Far East, North Europe and North America retained position one, two and three respectively from 2015, with the Far East seeing a 2% YoY growth, 3% for North Europe and 1% for North America.

Of the terminal operators included in the data, PSA remained in first place with 56,300,000 teu, growing 6%, Hutchinson Ports also maintained second place but with a 3% dip in growth, followed by APM Terminals also staying at number three with a 3% growth. DP World was fourth, keeping its rank but with zero growth, Cosco Shipping Ports also stayed at number five with a 4% growth.

The report took into account full and empty, loaded and discharged, including transhipment containers. It noted that “Chinese port statistics often include (large) unknown quantities of containerised river cargo. Without these, some of them might even not qualify for millionaire status.”

• Source: Port Strategy

yara

The world’s first autonomous electric cargo ship

Built by Norwegian firms Kongsberg and Yara, the Yara Birkeland will be the world’s first fully electric autonomous container ship. It will use GPS, radar, cameras and sensors to navigate itself. With a cost of around £25 million, which is 3 times the cost of a standard container ship, she will hopefully pay for herself as without the need for fuel or crew the annual operating costs could be slashed by up to 90%. Its size will be small compared to modern standards, with capacity for 100-150 shipping containers.

Until 2019 it will be operated as a manual vessel before moving to remote operation and then fully autonomous from 2020. It should begin to ship products from Yara’s production plant to the Norwegian ports of Brevik and Larvik in the later part of 2018.

Svein Tore Holsether, Yara’s president, said: “Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to ports in Brevik and Larvik where we ship products to customers around the world. With this vessel we move transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise and dust emissions, improve the safety of local roads, and reduce emissions.”

Yara Birkeland will be over 70 metres (230 ft) long, with a beam of 15 metres (49 ft) and a depth of 12 metres (39 ft). She will have a draught of 5 metres (16 ft).

Uncrewed shipping remains unchartered territory. Much of the processes and communications are still in development, and a move to fully autonomous depends on the technology being able to catch up with the design. It could be quite a while before there is no need for any crew!

You can watch the video here

air freight

Space issues causing trouble for shipping routes

Unusually tight capacity for the time of year is leading to rising rates, booking restrictions and backlogs for European exporters needing to ship from Europe to the Middle East and Asia.

This is in part attributed to exceptionally high levels of post Chinese New Year shipping cancellations, which have meant price increases for Europe to Asia container rates.

At this point, all bookings are being honoured, even though there seems to be a perception that this isn’t the case.

Hapag-Lloyd have introduced a US$200 peak season surcharge (PSS) for containers from Europe North Continent to East Asia, effective for sailings as of 15 March and valid until further notice. Many forwarders are recommending at least 3 weeks advanced notice of bookings.

The bankruptcy of the Hanjin shipping line last year has had a knock on effect from when it ceased to accept new cargo. Hanjin was the 7th largest container shipper in the world and the news has meant that their cargo has had to be distributed amongst an already nearly full to capacity fleet. Other shipping lines eventually took over their cargo, but at a price, with vessels already operating at high capacity.

Patrik Berglund, CEO of containerised ocean freight data specialist Xeneta said that data indicates that the current short-term rates for 40’ containers from North Europe to Asia averaged US$969. This level of pricing started in November and December ahead of Chinese New Year and had stayed high – and slightly continued to move upwards, Berglund said.
He said it was difficult to give a precise and short answer to the reasons for the current unexpected capacity crunch and high prices, but suggested it was due to a combination of carriers extracting more capacity than predicted demand and re-routing of capacity onto other corridors.

Xeneta had indicated in the lead-up to Chinese New Year that container lines operating on Asia-Europe trades were taking stronger measures than usual to maintain the recent recovery in ocean freight prices by making major cuts to capacity in the weeks after Lunar New Year. Since towards the end of 2016, the market has experienced a strong and sustained recovery, with container rates around 125% higher than they were around this time last year for Asia-Europe routes, Xeneta said. Xeneta’s sources had indicated that carriers were “taking stronger measures to deal with overcapacity to make sure the market stays up”, indicating that lines were attempting to prop up prices by reducing westbound sailings by 33% in the week immediately after Lunar new year and by around 43% from full capacity the following week. Xeneta noted at the time that this behaviour from carriers may mark a distinct difference compared with this period normally in previous years, when rates traditionally slide in the aftermath of Chinese New Year.

bad-weather

Weather Warning – Strong Winds in the UK Predicted on Thursday 23rd Feb

The MET Office have a severe weather warning in place for Thursday 23rd February covering the Port of Felixstowe with wind gusts forecasted between 60 – 80mph.

Weather Forecast MapsWind speed, 10 m above ground, 51°N 1°W, 2017/02/23 08:00 (UTC), © VentuSky.com

Due to the forecast we are expecting Felixstowe Port to close from1000hrs tomorrow morning through to the early hours of Friday morning the 24th
With this in mind, potentially there could be some disruption and delays to deliveries.

If you have deliveries booked for Thursday PM or Friday morning we would suggest bringing them forward (if possible) to tomorrow morning so we can collect containers early to avoid the MET office severe weather warning.

If you require any further information please get in touch.

We thankyou for your understanding and continued cooperation during this time.