Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Shipping Experts Gather Virtually to Discuss the World of Post Pandemic Freight

Covid has Reshaped Our Working Lives - But What Lies Ahead?
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Just when we thought Brexit would be the most despised word of 2020, along came Covid, a pandemic which has had a profound and lasting effect on all levels of our civilisation. To imagine the future, and be prepared to deal with it, Container xChange has organised a virtual summit with a variety of expert opinions to offer an opportunity for everyone involved in shipping to have their questions answered by some of the brightest minds in, and around, the industry.

Whilst we were adapting to working from home, having the kids around all the time and reducing life to a minimum, the shipping industry has been under pressure to deliver vital supplies whilst at the same time seeing general cargo levels fall away.

Shipping lines responded to the shift in demand with blank sailings on almost every trade lane, and these blank sailings have made forecasting a lot more difficult for shippers. Most sit longer than expected on their export cargo and have to deal with increasing freight rates because of reduced capacity. And those rates! Due to capacity cuts, spot rates are up 25-40% in some of the trade lanes compared to 2019. As carriers expect a lukewarm recovery from demand-crushing effects, they have even been announcing additional blank sailings lately.

As a consequence, 11.6% of the container shipping fleet is now idle and had reached a record of 2.72 million TEU by the end of May according to Alphaliner. Amongst the carriers, HMM has the largest idle fleet at 32.9% of the carrier’s overall capacity. With container shipping demand hammered, stores closed and people having lost their jobs, it became incredibly difficult to sell their product through every part of the supply chain.

There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty, nobody really knows what to do and how things will change over time. To get a glimpse of how the world would look in the near future, well-known and widely-respected shipping experts will come together at the Digital Container Summit on September 3 to discuss Covid-19 recovery strategies and collaborative solutions and put their personal view of what may lie ahead.

One of the shipping industry leaders is Lars Jensen, CEO at SeaIntelligence Consulting, who feels Covid has not fundamentally changed anything, but amplified problems that were already there. As an example he mentioned the much vaunted, but non-existent, electronic bill of lading. When the pandemic first struck Indian ports had to wait for weeks to get papers signed by their Chinese colleagues who were already all in lockdown.

As more than 50% of the people in shipping lines work from home now, Lars Jensen predicts a loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the global shipping industry, commenting:

“Covid-19 has proven that our systems work, as we’re still able to move 85% of global value although 50% work from home. When you’re able to do most of the work from home we’re also able to automate jobs, more than 40 000 jobs will disappear over the next 3-5 years because of that”.

For Wolfgang Lehmacher, the former Head of Supply Chain and Transport Industries of the World Economic Forum, the new normal has three names: virus, volatility and uncertainty, and he remarked:

“We have to navigate this and we cannot do this blindly! We need the information to support our decision-making processes and more cloud-based software to make working from home more efficient, such as software for remote inventory management”.

The Digital Container Summit: ‘Covid-19 Recovery: Volatility and Uncertainty as the New Normal’ will take place on September 3 with full details available HERE. To attend the keynote sessions, speak to the leading industry experts about recovery strategies, and schedule personal video meetings with other attendees from the shipping industry, Container xChange has opened its formerly client-only Digital Container Summit to the entire industry.

The list of experts and thought leaders include people like Thomas Bagge (CEO, DCSA), Dr. Ralf Belusa (CDO, Hapag Lloyd), Martin Dixon (Director of Research, Drewry), Ulrik Sanders (Global Leader Shipping Industry, BCG), Wolfgang Lehmacher (Ex-Director of Supply Chain & Transport, World Economic Forum), Eric Johnson (Senior Editor Technology, JOC.com) and Lars Jensen (CEO, SeaIntelligence Consulting). Each with their very own point-of-view on Covid-19, the shipping industry, and rebound strategies.