CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
March 29, 2020
Forward Thinking

Study calls for digitization of maritime shipping data

The ocean supply chain incurs expensive inefficiency due to poor data sharing in five key areas, a survey shows.

Logistics firms in the ocean supply chain need to apply digitized data sharing to avoid costly inefficiencies due to poor collaboration in five key areas, a maritime industry study shows.

The lack of data sharing affects importers, exporters, container carriers, terminal operators, vessel owners, and other stakeholders, all of which suffer from poor visibility and predictability around shipments, according to the study, "Competitive Gain in the Ocean Supply Chain: Innovation That's Driving Maritime Operational Transformation."

The study was released yesterday by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network in coordination with maritime industry technology firm Navis LLC, a division of cargo and load-handling solution vendor Cargotec Corp. It was based on a global survey of more than 200 executives and professionals from terminal operators, carriers, logistics providers, vessel owners, port authorities, shippers, consignees, and other members of the global ocean supply chain.

Ninety percent of survey participants said real-time data access and information sharing was important to increasing the efficiency and performance of the shipping industry, and 82 percent said the industry needs to improve supply chain visibility.

The problem is so bad that just 12 percent of respondents said their partners were "very effective" at collaborating and sharing data, while 38 percent said their partners were improving and 32 percent said they were "somewhat effective."

According to respondents, the five areas most in need of improved collaboration are:

  • Carrier-to-terminal coordination
  • Supply chain visibility and information sharing
  • Terminal operations
  • Cargo flow visibility and predictability
  • Coordination across carrier alliances

The hurdles preventing those improvements include industry resistance to change, coupled with the maritime shipping sector's aging and inflexible information technology (IT) systems, the survey showed.

To overcome those challenges, players must digitize maritime data, the study found. The push for that improvement will likely come from a combination of forces, as shippers push for better operational visibility; alliances demand better ways for their carrier members to improve efficiencies and customer service; and terminals and port authorities feel pressure to increase utilization and optimize existing infrastructures.

"Everyone benefits from collaboration and data sharing," shipping executive Andreas Mrozek said in a release. Mrozek is global head of marine and terminal operations for the Hamburg Süd Group container shipping line. "It starts with the customers and moves to the carriers, then the terminal operators, vendors, freight systems, truck companies, and keeps going down the line. Closer collaboration is a compelling value proposition for each supply chain partner."

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