Tag Archives: container shipping

Can Big Organizations Be Agile?

A nice discussion of Agile development techniques in the large corporation context.  It’s definitely the wave of the future, and all firms and enterprises need to consider it. Time to do away with the old project management mentality and get feedback from the users.

  Agile is mindset.

Source: Can Big Organizations Be Agile?

Physical Internet Initiative

 

The Physical Internet initiative, started in 2013, is active in 5 European countries.  Here’s a note about who is involved.

  They have a conference in Austria on July 4-6 of this year. http://www.pi.events/

A standard like this could radically change the ocean container shipping business. It would affect landside operations as well.

Among other things it proposes a new form of smart shipping container called a pi-container, which would be able to interact with its contents  as well as with external systems to relay many facts about both the products states and the cargo position. The smart container would also be sized much smaller than a standard ocean shipping container, to support smaller package transport better, and to allow greater unitization and simpler and more automated transloading capability.

But ocean carriers have the largest upfront investment in their standardized container specs, since they must be designed into ships.  It would be very disruptive to have to replace all the current ships, so the path to adoption is clearly long, but the push is coming in some form. The same goes to some extent for air, rail  and truck, but since they often handle smaller product unit sizes anyway and the capital equipment is less costly (except in the case of air, which uses smaller custom containers anyway, and do not match the remaining standards). In the case of air, cargo is frequently carried in passenger planes so the cost is covered by the people not the cargo.  And a lot of air freight is package transport anyway since small size and high value are prerequisites for the much more costly air freight.

I think attention needs to be paid to the economics of migrating to the standard.  In the case of the shipping container the economics drove the transformation.  Economics must drive progress on a new model for transport as well.

Source: Physical Internet: simulation | TRACE

There are some real heavyweights involved in the initiative. Their website is below. It is intended as an open standard, that would encourage all carriers and shippers to use the ideas to simplify cooperation and handling of products during shipment, as well as increase visibility to the discrete product level and allow finer sensing of the many quality dimensions products of varying sorts need during shipment and delivery.

  physical internet initiative

Source: Physical Internet Initiative

Their publications are listed in a tab on their site.

Like most standards groups, we don’t know nor can we predict whether this standard will take hold. It has some big retail and grocery backers, but that is no guarantee.

There aren’t any after 2013, which raises the question whether this initiative is now defunct.

Drewry – West Coast upgrade

Drewry’s Container Insight Weekly had this detailed piece on West Coast usage by large ships.  The major takeaway: bigger ships are calling but it may be too soon for many of the ULCC (18000 teu or so) to call yet, due to port related delays.  There’s also a sort of bedlam caused by the reshuffling alliances; the firms in each alliance have different preferences as to which terminal to use at the ports. Hence there’s no stability in where a ship might call on each visit.  To fix this will require compromise on ocean carrier objectives, like “always use our affiliated terminal when you come to LA”.  Stability would make it simpler for the terminals to plan how to unload or load and get the customers’ cargoes on the way to their destinations.  That part is challenging enough for the ports terminal operators today. Everyone has to work together to improve the customer (cargo owner) journey (literal and figurative!!!).

  The number of containerships of 13,000 teu or above deployed on the Asia-US West Coast trade has nearly doubled since the start of 2017. How long before the mega-ships arrive?

Source: Drewry – Weekly Feature Articles – West Coast upgrade