Yesterday, we officially concluded an incredibly successful week of networking, speaking engagements, market forecasts, analysis and expert opinions, aimed at both reconnecting with existing customers and partners, and exploring new business opportunities.
Our teams of specialists across North America and Europe conducted one-to-one live chats and video calls with many companies, discussing how MSC’s solutions might be best adapted to answer their most immediate business needs.
A CALL FOR COOPERATION ACROSS ALL SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS
As part of the programme’s 75 sessions, MSC contributed with speakers who addressed topics that are not only essential parts of the debate for the industry, they are critical to its future.
In a newly launched JOC podcast series called “Beyond TPM”, Fabio Santucci, MSC USA President & CEO, focused on the challenging environment the industry has faced for much of 2020 and continuing into 2021, and stressed that that these unparalleled disruptions to the international supply chain are not caused by one party in the chain, instead affecting “all the major stakeholders, the entire supply chain", putting "extreme pressure on vessel and container supply and generating a slowdown in the entire container transport system.”
Responding to a question around the return to a more predictable market environment, Fabio recognised that it is still difficult to say exactly what the outlook for the year might be, as much will hinge on the pace and trajectory of the coronavirus recovery curve, any resulting restrictions on non-essential travel and commerce, and their consequent repercussions on the strength of demand. In so doing, he called for cooperation across all supply chain actors: “the system will ultimately go back to a more predictable and more balanced situation, some sort of regained equilibrium", however, "constant and effective cooperation and communication with partners, vendors and clients remains key. Understanding one another, planning together and setting the right expectations goes a long way and it’s one of the main things we have to continue doing throughout 2021.”
OUR STANCE ON DECARBONISATION
MSC Group Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy and Government Affairs, Bud Darr joined a panel that explored how container shipping decarbonisation can be achieved through future operational actions and industry collaboration towards a fossil fuel-free future. The panel session brought together carriers and those working with shippers to discuss the shared responsibility and increased costs that are involved in truly decarbonising the shipping industry. The total costs have been estimated at around $1.65 trillion by 2050 and the majority of this needs to cover infrastructure and fuel development.
"I think it's really important that we do not lose sight of what the real goal here is. The real goal is full decarbonisation. It has to happen," Bud stated. "A real long-term solution won't be available unless we have a combination of alternative fuels and technologies that need to be brought to the marketplace". "We all have to share the burden and the cost will have to be absorbed through the value chain. We will only get there if we work together as a community, and that includes government, academia, OEMs, NGOs, the shipowners and those they serve," he concluded.
INTEROPERABILITY AS THE WAY FORWARD
Then it was the turn of Andre Simha, MSC’s Global Chief Digital and Information Officer, who virtually took to the stage to investigate recent progress on a number of fronts intended to unify digitalisation across the shipping industry, and who also contributed to a podcast, available at the following link.
During his one-on-one with Senior Editor of Technology, Eric Johnson as part of TPM’s main agenda, Andre touched on the very important need for the industry to adopt standards when it comes to technological advances to avoid a fragmented approach that would further inhibit progress.
Taking the example of the eBL, Andre explained that "at MSC, we've been looking at the solutions out there and there are some very good solutions," adding that "the problem is that they are not interoperable." Looking forward "we are going to continue the battle for standards, we are going to bring more and more actors on board," which implies that "we're moving away from the pure competition and we're engaging more and more in peer-to-peer conversations."
On his podcast, Andre discussed the industry’s path to digitalisation and suggested that digitalising the “lengthy, complex and cumbersome documentation process is going to be an interesting challenge for 2021.” He recognised that companies have “finally put digitalisation at the top of the agenda,” adding that they are “beginning to prioritise budget," with a "greater willingness to adapt and adopt.”
However, unlocking the value of technological solutions is very much tied to the data use that still many companies struggle with. Andre explained that while customers may be shipping with a variety of carriers, a multitude of non-interoperable solutions can only further complicate the problem. “The way we try to help our customers is by offering pilots,” he explained.
FIND OUT MORE
We would like to thank The Journal of Commerce and IHS Markit for organising the conference and allowing intensive networking, negotiations, and relationship building among the multiple parties in the international container shipping supply chain.
Interested in finding out more about MSC’s technological solutions? Visit our dedicated page here.
To know more about our sustainability approach, please visit the dedicated page msc.com/sustainability where you can also download all MSC sustainability reports published to date.
Until next year!