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Maersk Line CEO calls for major changes in shipping industry; reliability, ease of business, environmental excellence

Maersk Line CEO Eivind Kolding called for major changes in the shipping industry during the keynote address to the container shipping and logistics industry at the TOC conference in Antwerp, Belgium. If container shipping is to secure its licence to operate in the future, the industry needs to change now, he said.

Containerization re-invented global commercial trade. The time has come to make that kind of change again.

—Eivind Kolding

Using examples from the automotive, aviation, portable music player and mobile phone industries, Kolding asserted that the industry may only be a “few years from being completely overtaken” by new technology.

The shipping industry is faced with three fundamental challenges: our unreliability, our complexity and our environmental impact. But instead of making excuses we should stop the repair work and see them as fantastic opportunities. Why shouldn’t we be able to get cargo there on time, every time? Why shouldn’t we make it easier and give customers instant prices and instant confirmation of their booking? Why shouldn’t we hold ourselves to the highest environmental standards?

—Eivind Kolding

  • Reliability. The container industry averages delivering one out of two containers on time. Maersk Line research has found that a significant amount of customers claim they would increase volumes with a carrier if its on-time delivery was significantly improved, and many of them say they even would pay a premium to get cargo delivered on time to their doorstep.

  • Ease of business. Out of all the processes that make up container transportation, there are only five relevant steps for customers to be involved in, Maersk says: booking, delivering, tracking, receiving and paying. Today, however, customers and their business partners are involved in far too many unnecessary interactions and transactions.

  • Environmental. The industry’s total greenhouse gas emissions represent between three and four percent of global emissions—higher than the nation of Germany. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) forecasts that the industry is set to grow 400-800% towards 2050, posing an obvious challenge for both the industry and its customers.

    However, he noted, shipping is the least polluting way to mass-move commercial goods around the planet. With worldwide commercial trade projected to continue to grow and put pressure on companies to find carbon efficient solutions, ocean transport holds huge potential to become an even more important player in global trade, he suggested.



Where are the remaining efficiencies that could be gained in global shipping? Fuel efficiency, top cruising speed improvements for ships, canal improvements for larger ships, and faster more advanced port operations (off-load & on-load of cargo).


Interesting but hardly new. Want to fix environmental concerns? Slow steam- and I do mean slow steam ie 18 knots not 21. Serve more ports directly than via rail and via truck as today( unique to North America the cargo costs are higher inland than they are on the ships).
Want to fix reliability? Most customers won't pay the premium but will promise they will support carriers if carriers spend hugely to obtain it. If your supply line is 49 days long what does 1 or 3 days truly matter unless you are out of material.
Ease of business is really important- most customers want to be able to make costly mistakes and push them off onto carriers( and they do all the time)
UPS has a system that carriers must emulate but don't.

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