To provide major users of container shipping services into, out of, and within Asia— including retailers, manufacturers, consumer product firms, agribusiness, and energy companies — with an understanding of the major challenges they and their logistics vendors face in what may be the most tumultuous time in the 56-year history of container shipping.
THEME: FINDING EFFICIENCIES AMID DISRUPTION?
Container shipping may be late to the game, but there is growing realization that applying technology in innovative ways can unlock the solutions of the future for an industry trapped in a long cycle of destructive competition. From online container booking and price management platforms to end-to-end tracking and solutions and blockchains, a wave of technology is sweeping over liner shipping with the understanding that the more connected carriers are with their customers, the better the services they can provide.
But the carriers first must rediscover the sustained profitability that has been missing for the better part of a decade, because more financially stable carriers are better able to focus on service and innovation, rather than aggressively concentrating on cost savings that have limited their interest and investment in technology and digitization. After a dismal 2016, carriers began to display uncharacteristically disciplined capacity management toward the end of the year that carried into 2017, which improved the supply-demand balance and created optimism among liner shipping management that a more stable era had begun. Still, lacking a sudden surge in demand, oversupply is overwhelmingly expected to exist for another two years, at least. That’s because a total of more than 150 ships capable of carrying 10,000 20-foot-equivalent container units or more, are set to be delivered in 2017 and 2018, according to research analyst Alphaliner. With growth in demand expected to hover in the mid-single-digit range, the gap is likely to continue to weigh on freight rates.
Another problem area is the insufficient collaboration between carriers and beneficial cargo owners, because what’s good for the carriers is seldom good for their customers. A case in point are the new shipping alliances that took effect in April that restructured service networks and reduced direct port calls, while increasing transshipment. BCOs, meanwhile, also are adjusting to carrier consolidation that limits their choices.
Major changes also are occurring outside the transportation of shipping containers. As freight stakeholders try to navigate their shifting businesses, the global economic environment also is changing. This raises questions: In this new world, is a slowing China still a safe bet? Where are the pockets of growth in Asia? How are carriers and their customers coping with the fast-rising intra-Asia trade as growing Southeast Asian markets assert themselves on the regional economy? Will container trade in general become more regionalized as manufacturers open factories closer to their target markets or embrace automation? What role will China-Europe rail and Asia’s road network play in the future, and how will a recovering Russian economy help the Asia-North Europe trade?
The situation requires a fresh appraisal of how and where BCOs do business, and how rapidly evolving technology can deliver much-needed efficiencies to an industry slow to embrace it — principles that will be at the heart of TPM Asia 2018.
TOPICS TO BE EXPLORED:
- Market Outlook and Analysis: How are the main east-west and intra-Asia fundamentals shaping up as 2018 approaches? When will the supply-demand balance shift?
- Carrier Financial Outlook: How well are container lines weathering 2016? With memories of Hanjin’s August 2016 collapse and the subsequent fallout still fresh, should shippers fear another failure?
- Technology and Digitization: Is the industry ready to enter a new era?
- Alliances and Consolidation: How are BCOs adjusting? Has the new alliance structure launched in April been better or worse for service quality?
- China-Europe Rail: Why this once-unconventional alternative to ocean and air is becoming a viable and popular service solution for shippers.
- Case Studies: What best practices and solutions are shippers and other transportation interests employing to resolve today’s supply chain challenges?