Category Archives: Strategy

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Shipper hackles rise as Hong Kong box terminals announce operating alliance

Sam Whelan penned a report on the alliance of four companies managing terminals at the Kwai Tsing terminals in Hong Kong.

Apparently shippers are furious. They believe there will be collusion and rates will rise as a result.  Rates are already higher in Hong Kong than the mainland, and the Hong Kong fees add more cost.

The firms say it’s only to make the port more efficient and gain higher throughput.  Volume handled has been declining in 2018 compared to the prior year.

It’s true that greater cooperation would most likely improve port throughput.  Coordinating yard movements and berth use would offer possibilities for gains. I’m not sure it would have to be at the level of fixing prices.   Improving port and yard bottlenecks is an important activity for firms in port management today.

But you can bet shippers will be on their guard for any collusion on pricing, especially when there’s a falling need for services.  And since it’s China that is involved– these are Chinese firms– we can’t rule out geopolitical considerations that would be collusive.  WE need to watch this one and see how the volumes and prices play out, just like the shippers will.

logo  via Shipper hackles rise as Hong Kong box terminals announce operating alliance – The Loadstar

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Cost, operational challenges hinder port automation

Ben Meyer in American Shipper has summarized a McKinsey report on port automation and port modernization.  One interesting point in the discussion is that port operators are actually not seeing productivity gains in automated ports. Throughputs are actually slower.  They have some explanations for this, but it is a real problem.

It struck me that automation is often seen as going hand in hand with better visibility of cargoes in the port and readiness for delivery.  to the extent that the software requires automation, there may be a correlation here that does not bode well in the medium term.

In the long term it may well turn out better, but meanwhile, the customer may suffer.

 

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via Cost, operational challenges hinder port automation

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CMA CGM and CEVA detail tie-up

Chris Dupin has an interesting article in the most recent American Shipper.  CMA/CGM is trying to buy a majority interest in CEVA, the 3PL firm based in Switzerland.   CEVA has been the target of another buyout effort by DSV, another 3PL.  the time was certainly ripe for a consolidation in both the 3PL and the maritime transport space.  This merger or combination is another attempt to deepen the reach of a maritime company into downstream supply chain management.

Like all of these mergers, we’ll have to see if it works out, and if the combination succeeds in improving results for shippers and receivers of goods.  But for me it is  a step in the right direction for a maritime company.  If you try to tackle the downstream problems, you will start to understand how to improve and deliver more value.  Whether a purchase is the best route is an open question, but it is certainly a good try.

The article also points out that CMA/CGM is innovating in other ways now.  It has an in-house incubator, ZeBox, of small concerns that have ideas for improvements. It’s moving ahead on tracking containers and monitoring some of the risk conditions they face while traveling; and it is making some investment in bill of lading improvements through a blockchain technology project with BuyCo, another startup.  These are certainly ways to get innovators thinking about the maritime supply chain problems.  Who winds up with the rents is yet to be determined.

 

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via CMA CGM and CEVA detail their tie-up