Technological disruption within the maritime industry is transforming before our very eyes. Markets have been roiled by the recent merger of large shipping liners and the economic uncertainties between America and China. There are also issues with the shift in consumer purchasing preferences to buy experiences than goods. All these have contributed to a cautious approach to global port capacity expansion, although the outlook for container demand is now at an optimistic 4% per annum the next five years.
We have arrived at the inflection point of the market and the only way to progress is to move forward.
With the demand in larger vessel size and the demand for faster turnaround time, terminal operators have to come to terms with the need to adopt some form of automation in order to gain competitive edge. To get there, addressing fundamental challenges in the way the current container industry works is crucial, bearing in mind the current planning process across container flow is heavily fragmented.
An end-to-end planning process must be adopted in order to see operational efficiency. Large shipping companies have invested heavily in consolidating solutions and practices to cope with massive data exchange conducted throughout the maritime chain. Here, we challenge the status quo and embrace the adoption of information sharing platforms to better utilise vessel capacity and optimise allocation, terminal operations, berth management and improve the integration of these processes for more effective collaboration between stakeholders. Take for example, a Japanese shipping conglomerate has adopted a robust IT platform that is rated as the best in class for a containership operator of today. From the onset, it was determined that OPUS solutions would be its core business system and its CRM, container inventory solutions and vessel operations systems were to be integrated into it. This effort creates synergy within the ecosystem of its operations. It not only adds value to key stakeholders by combining industry best practice with accurate real-time data, it also drives enhanced operational efficiency.
The ultimate challenge is for the industry to re-examine their operational processes and home in on technologies that would help them harness the productivity gains on offer.