maersk

Sea Machines gains financial support to develop autonomous containerships

The prospect of unmanned container vessels serving global container supply chains has taken another step forward.

Sea Machines Robotics, a US developer of autonomous vessels, announced it had raised $10m from venture capital funds.

The investors were led by Accomplice VC and Eniac Ventures, but also include Toyota AI Ventures, TechNexus Venture Collaborative, NextGen VP, Geekdom Fund, Launch Capital and LDV Capital, and brings Sea Machines’ external funding up to $12.5m.

Boston-headquartered Sea Machines, which in April signed up Maersk Line to pilot its “perception and situational awareness technology aboard one of the company’s new-build Winter Palace ice-class containerships”, said it would use the new funds to grow its R&D and engineering teams as well as expand its sales efforts globally.

“We are creating the technology that propels the future of the marine industries and this investment enables us to double down on our commitment to building advanced command and control products that make the industry more capable, productive and profitable,” said Michael Gordon Johnson, founder and chief executive.

Jim Adler, founding managing director of Toyota AI Ventures, added: “We believe autonomous mobility can help improve people’s lives and create new capabilities – whether on land, in the air or at sea.

“Sea Machines’ autonomous technology and advanced perception systems can reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance safety in the multi-billion dollar commercial shipping industry. This marks our first investment in the maritime industry, and we’re excited to embark on this journey.”

Vic Singh, founding general partner at Eniac Ventures, added: “The level of traction Sea Machines has from the global maritime industry is a tell-tale sign that the industry is the next frontier for autonomy.”

And Michael Rodey, senior manager at AP Møller-Maersk, said: “I think this investment sends a strong signal on the types of technologies that will come to define the maritime industry in the future.”

Source: The Loadstar

air freight

Happy new year as air freight marks a decade ‘in the black’

IATA claims global aviation is on course for a “decade in the black”.

However, the annual pace of growth in cargo is well below last year’s “exceptional” performance.

Despite the slowdown, the association remains relatively positive about future growth, albeit it at a slower pace.

“The expected 3.7% annual increase in cargo tonnage next year to 65.9m tonnes (up from 63.7m in 2018) would be the slowest pace since 2016,” it said.

“This reflects a weak world trade environment impacted by increasing protectionism. Cargo yields are expected to grow by 2%.”

Pointing to lower oil prices, alongside “solid, albeit slower” economic growth as drivers of profitability, it said next year would be the 10thconsecutive year of profit.

Not only that, but 2019 would also mark the fifth consecutive year in which airlines had delivered a return on investment, with IATA chief executive Alexandre de Juniac sounding “cautiously” optimistic.

“We had expected that rising costs would weaken profitability in 2019, but the sharp fall in oil prices and solid GDP growth projections have provided a buffer,” he said.

“So we are cautiously optimistic the run of solid value creation for investors will continue for at least another year; but there are downside risks as economic and political environments remain volatile.”

Regionally, North America is entering 2019 on the front foot, reporting the fastest rate of growth globally, with demand up 6.6% year on year for October.

And while all regions reported growth in October, Latin America only just got in on the positivity with a mere 0.3% upturn in demand.

“Cargo is a tough business, but we can be cautiously optimistic as we approach the end of 2018 – slow but steady growth continues despite trade tensions,” added Mr de Juniac.

“The growth of e-commerce is more than making up for sluggishness in more traditional markets, and yields are strengthening in the traditionally busy fourth quarter.

“We must be conscious of the economic headwinds, but the industry looks set to bring the year to a close on a positive note.”

Source: The Loadstar

milan Maersk

The future of box shipping: less vessel cascading and fewer liner alliances?

Vessel cascading has been an ever-present feature of container shipping since liner executives first understood the benefits of economies of scale and began the box ship capacity arms race.

But over the next few years, there are likely to be only a few arenas where it will take place, according to Drewry Maritime Advisors’ director of ports, Neil Davidson.

Mr Davidson also suggested that, with an outstanding orderbook of some 130 vessels of over 10,000 teu still to be delivered, the main areas that cascading could take place would be the North American Pacific coast.

There the maximum vessel size is expected to grow from 14,500 teu to 18,000 teu, and the west Mediterranean, where it is forecast to grow from 14,000-16,000 teu to the 18,000-22,000 teu range.

Other trades where smaller vessels continue to be deployed – for example, the Australian trades this year saw its first 8,600 teu vessel call – would continue to be constrained by port dimensions, he said.

However, he suggested that the most recent increases in vessel size – the largest ships growing from the 18,000 teu Maersk Triple-E, to the 23,5000 teu vessels currently under construction – could well be the last box ship size increases for a considerable period.

“Our analysis is based on the orderbook, and although there are some units of 23,500 teu under construction, in terms of length and beam, they are not dimensionally larger.

“In fact, the impact of ULCVs on the wider supply chain suggests that the maximum vessel size may have be to large,” he added.

He was referring the widespread belief that one of the causes of the recurrent port congestion over the past few years has been the introduction of ULCVs and the sheer number of containers they can unload in a single call. This has put huge pressure on hinterland supply chains.

Mr Davidson added: “There are also clear commercial reasons for not going bigger – service frequency has had to be reduced to fill those ships, and there has been an impact on market share, and carriers have needed to enter into alliances to maintain market share and fill those ships.” And he believes this this could have a deep impact on how shipping alliances are formed in the future.

“In the long-term, the most interesting thing is that, if we have reached the ceiling of maximum vessel size, and if container volumes in the market continue to grow, operators that currently need alliance partners to help fill their vessels may well find themselves able to fill them on their own and we may begin to see the break-up of alliances,” he said.

Source: The Loadstar

air pollution

Maersk aims to achieve zero CO2 emission by 2050

Container shipping company AP Moller – Maersk has unveiled plans to completely cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from its operations by 2050.

In order to meet the goal, Maersk intends to have carbon neutral vessels commercially viable by 2030, as well as accelerate new innovations and adopt new technology.

The company has called for a strong industry involvement to reduce emission from the shipping sector, which is estimated to carry around 80% of the world’s trade.

Maersk has so far decreased its relative CO2 emissions by 46% from the 2007 baseline, around 9% more than the industry average.

AP Moller – Maersk chief operating officer Søren Toft said: “The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonisation in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon-neutral fuels and supply chains.

“The next five to ten years are going to be crucial. We will invest significant resources for innovation and fleet technology to improve the technical and financial viability of decarbonised solutions.

“Over the last four years, we have invested around $1bn and engaged 50+ engineers each year in developing and deploying energy-efficient solutions. Going forward, we cannot do this alone.”

According to Maersk, the shipping industry’s solutions to reduce emission should be different from those of automotive, rail and aviation.

The electric truck, which is yet to make a debut, is expected to carry up to two twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) and is estimated to cover 800km per charging.

A container vessel carrying thousands of TEU can cover around 8,800km during a voyage between Panama and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Maersk noted that, considering the 20-25-year lifespan of a vessel, the industry should come together and start developing a new type of vessel that will be used for sea journeys in 2050.

Next year, the company aims to start an open and collaborative dialogue with all potential parties to jointly tackle the issue of climate change.

Source: ship-technology.com