Category "Trends"

Consolidation in global shipping and the impact on ports

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The global shipping industry has had a rough ride over the past decade. The shockwaves from the global financial crisis that broke out in 2008 are still rippling through an industry that is existentially dependent on the volume of world trade, and in particular trade in containerised cargoes and commodities. In the past ten years more than half the world’s top 20 shipping lines have disappeared – either through mergers or bankruptcy. Hardly any other global industry has experienced such a dramatic concentration process.

 

In April of last year the remaining shipping companies consolidated to form three major alliances, 2M, Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance, including all the world’s top ten container lines: 2M – MSC, Maersk and HMM – has 223 ships with a total capacity of around 2.4 million TEUs operating 25 weekly services covering 1,327 port pairs. The Ocean Alliance – CMA-CGM, Cosco Group, OOCL and Evergreen – has 323 ships with a total capacity of some 3.5 million TEUs operating 40 weekly services covering 1,571 port pairs. THE Alliance – Hapag Lloyd, NYK, Yang Ming, MOL and K-Line – has 241 ships with a total capacity of around 3.3 million TEUs operating 32 weekly services covering 1,152 port pairs.

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Driving digitalisation of trade documents through blockchain technology

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A trading transaction for seaborne cargo can leave behind a trail of documents at least as long as the ship itself. Bills of lading, packing lists, letters of credit, insurance policies, orders, invoices, sanitary certificates, certificates of origin: the huge ships sailing in and out of the world’s ports are not only carrying lots of cargo. A shipment of avocadoes transported from Mombasa to Rotterdam by a Maersk vessel in 2014 involved more than 200 communications involving 30 parties, the company calculated. A container giant may well be associated with hundreds of thousands of documents. For many years, there had been talk of digitising shipping documents but little was achieved to walk the talk. But now at last there are signs of progress – and not before time.

 

According to the World Economic Forum, the costs of processing trade documents can be as much as a fifth of those to shift the actual goods. So removing administrative blockages in supply chains could possibly bring more of a boost to international trade than eliminating tariffs. The United Nations has calculated that full digitisation of trade papers could increase the exports of, for example, Asia-Pacific countries by as much as $257 billion a year.

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Shipping emissions – the stakes are high

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There was a lot at stake at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) talks held in London in the week after Easter. With global shipping collectively producing more CO2 emissions than Germany, for example, the IMO was discussing proposals to limit and reduce emissions by ships. Their share of global CO2 emissions has been around 2-3% in recent years.

 

Shipping was excluded from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement because as a global cross-border industry, it is almost impossible to break down individual countries’ contributions. The main driver for the growth of global shipping emissions is the rise of international trade, which is projected to almost double by 2035 and continue growing at around 3% per year until 2050.

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Big Data and the digitised supply chain

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Digitised supply chain management is already an everyday reality for the land-based movement of goods. But what about seaborne traffic? There is a general consensus of opinion that shipping should be getting equipped for a future where the focus will be on digitised supply chains and not on their individual components, e.g. ships. The challenge up to now has been to have sufficient ship-to-shore IT connectivity but with significant advances already achieved in this field, the key question now is what significance ship owners and operators attach to a digitised supply chain, rather than competing with one another just on price.

The fact is that shipping is currently lagging behind on Big Data. According to the findings of a recent survey, only 8.7% of maritime industry executives see Big Data as a major part of their operations, although they do believe that digitisation and Big Data are acting as a transformative force in the industry. Could it be that the day-to-day running of a business in the tough competitive climate of commercial shipping is the major barrier to investment in digitised solutions? It is true to say that Big Data solutions are often both expensive and time-intensive, while the return on investment is frequently uncertain. Although undoubtedly a more difficult approach than quick-fit solutions to easily measurable tasks, Big Data will deliver the best returns when applied to a ship’s entire voyage.

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MCN Maritime Safety Group set up

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At the Maritime Safety Conference held in Rostock, Germany, at the end of January, a specialist Maritime Safety Group was set up by the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany (MCN). As one of the pioneers of real-time AIS vessel tracking, MCN member FleetMon will be represented on the group’s Executive Committee.

The MCN membership is made up of some 300 firms, maritime authorities and other stakeholders from the Northern German states of Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania – all states with a strong maritime tradition and vested interests in the shipping, shipbuilding, ship repairs and offshore industries. All MCN members have a common goal: improving networking amongst the commercial and research communities in Northern Germany’s maritime sector. MCN aims to promote and develop cooperation in the Northern German maritime industry, give the maritime industry a voice, create platforms so that stakeholders are able to interact with each other, and also promote interfaces with other industries in an innovative, technology-oriented and forward-looking way.

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Lessons learned from ship’s grounding

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When the GLORY AMSTERDAM went aground in a storm off Langeroog, one of Germany’s East Frisian islands, in October 2017, there were justifiable concerns about a serious oil spill that would have been badly affected the holiday beaches of this lovely island. Fortunately, this 225-metre-long bulk carrier only suffered damage to her rudder blade and rudder system and no oil was spilled. After several failed attempts, the GLORY AMSTERDAM was finally pulled off the sandbank and towed to Bremerhaven where she has been hauled up ever since and is not expected to be declared seaworthy until the end of February.

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Risk profiling increasingly important in PSC inspections

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Port State Control (PCS) inspectors are changing the way they inspect ships and placing greater emphasis on a vessel’s risk profile, says Petros Achtypis, CEO of Cyprus-based Prevention at Sea (PaSea). PSC memoranda of understanding (MOUs) are now drawing direct parallels between the risk profile of a ship on the one hand and the performance of the ship manager and the flag-state recognised organisation (RO) on the other. This is good news for safety at sea. After all, identifying operational or management risks can help to uncover pitfalls that may lead to accidents or injury.

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e-mobility at sea – the future now in Finland

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Electric road vehicles are slowly but surely making progress. According to figures published by the International Energy Agency worldwide sales were up by 40% in 2016. But an electric-powered ship – isn’t that technically impossible? A few years ago, we would have agreed, but advances in electric power storage and generation have made this emission-free dream come true – in Finland, for example. A 525-ton ferry with the appropriate name ELEKTRA (shown on the picture) is now transporting up to 375 passengers and 90 cars through the islets off the Finnish port of Turku. The batteries for this Finferries vessel were manufactured by Siemens, a company with a long tradition in electric-powered vessels with the first one built as long ago as 1886! In the Norwegian city of Trondheim Siemens employs more than 1,000 people in the development and construction of electric-powered fishing vessels, working boats and ferries. Siemens built the world’s first e-ferry, the AMPERE, in 2015 and is currently expanding its battery production facility in Trondheim.

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Tracking CO2 emissions – mandatory since 1 January

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On 1 January 2018 a new and mandatory dimension was added to fleet tracking: ship owners are now obliged to monitor CO2 emissions for ships exceeding 5,000 gross tons. There are good reasons.

International shipping is the only means of transportation not included in the EU’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So monitoring CO2 emissions from ships makes environmental sense. In November 2017 an agreement was reached between the European Parliament and Council to establish a mechanism for monitoring, reporting and verifying maritime emissions. The aim of the new regulation is to improve the level of information about maritime CO2 emissions with respect to ships’ fuel consumption, transport work and energy efficiency. This will enable emissions trends and ship performance to be analysed. And in the longer term, the data gathered will allow the EU to “play an influential role in the negotiations within the International Maritime Organisation, with a view to finding ambitious solutions that combine environmental protection with development”, as Gian Luca Galletti, the Italian Environment Minister recently said.

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Filling up on LNG – Floating filling stations might be the answer

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The number of filling stations for LNG-powered ships is limited. Germany, for example, has none. So a floating filling station like the CARDISSA is a very useful companion for the growing number of LNG-powered vessels. The CARDISSA was built in South Korea and operates as an LNG bunker ship for Shell.

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Her most recent voyage took her from Amsterdam through the Kiel Canal to the Swedish port of Nynäshamn. 2018 will see the world’s first LNG-powered cruise liner, the AIDANOVA, in operation. Its four powerful engines will generate no particulate or sulphur dioxide emissions and 80% fewer nitric oxide emissions than conventional marine diesels. That’s one reason why liquid natural gas is seen as a key factor in improving the shipping industry’s ecological footprint. Not least for this reason, Shell is planning to add another two vessels to its floating filling station fleet.

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