The maritime sector is awash in game changers. How cargo moves by sea in the future will be very different from how it moves today – and that evolution will matter to land-based transport, including trucking.
To provide perspective on the myriad changes ahead, FreightWaves LIVE Chicago, to be held Nov. 12-13 at McCormick Place Convention Center, has added maritime cargo to its range of topics.
From its trucking-centric origins, FreightWaves has quickly added a comprehensive suite of modal data to enable companies to holistically view their supply chains, whether the mode is trucking, intermodal rail, air or maritime.
Why maritime matters
The key changes in maritime fall into four primary (and often interrelated) categories: regulation, technology, politics and supply/demand fundamentals.
First, the IMO 2020 regulation will require the use of more expensive low-sulfur fuel starting in January, and pending regulations on carbon emissions will place even greater restrictions on fuel in the following decade. These rules will materially increase the cost of ocean transport.
Second, the industry is aggressively pursuing technological advances to improve the efficiency of ocean transport in the face of regulation-induced higher fuel costs. Shippers are also looking to technological advances to gain greater cargo transparency. Ocean shipping is becoming much more tech-focused, in general.
Third, trade relations are fraying across the globe as the pendulum swings from globalism to nationalism. Rising tariffs and concerns over future tariffs are redrawing supply chains. Ocean shipping routes are shifting.
Fourth, uncertainty over future regulations and technology is disincentivizing new ship orders, given concerns over obsolescence risk. The cost of ocean shipping has remained very low over recent decades because of perennial over-ordering by ship owners. That could change.
Unveiling SONAR enhancements
One of the highlights of FreightWaves LIVE Chicago will be the unveiling of SONAR 5.0, which will include a huge expansion and upgrade to maritime data. SONAR is FreightWaves’ proprietary platform for integrating massive amounts of public and private data to quickly deliver freight market intelligence amid shifting supply and demand.
“Around 90% of global trade travels on the water,” said Henry Byers, FreightWaves’ maritime market expert. “For that reason, maritime will be a critical part of SONAR going forward in our quest to develop the industry’s best analytics platform for all parts of the global supply chain.
“SONAR’s proprietary algorithms and methodologies, which we have already utilized for the coverage of the trucking industry, apply to all modes of transportation – and we have made it our mission to bring transparency to each of those modes.
“For the maritime industry, we have a unique advantage over coverage of the trucking industry, given the high visibility into the supply side of the maritime equation through a combination of satellites and terrestrial-based receivers that allow us to see nearly 100% of dry and refrigerated cargo capacity on the water at any moment,” Byers added.
“Whether they’re using our user interface as a tool for their operations team and battling for capacity on the front lines, or whether they’re consuming our data via an API for advanced modeling and forecasting, our clients are differentiating themselves from the competition through supply chain intelligence and data analytics. These companies are de-risking their supply chain in a way that helps them focus on their core business and drive revenue – instead of chasing capacity and battling increased costs after getting caught off guard.”
Maritime panelists: Kontainers
One of the featured panelists providing maritime insight at FreightWaves LIVE is Graham Parker, CEO of Kontainers, a software-as-a-service company that allows ocean carriers and forwarders to provide online access for customers.
Kontainers’ enterprise platform provides instant rates, booking, customs, trucking, full- and less-than-container load services, global schedules, bill of lading, chat support, dashboard analytics, payment system and a full back-office application.
Ocean carriers and forwarders have typically relied on in-house proprietary systems to provide rates and other services. But those types of systems can take one to two years to implement, compared with Kontainers’ solution, which can be up and running in three months.
In an interview with FreightWaves in September, Parker said 2019 marked a turning point in the logistics industry as far as greater availability of online quoting and booking.
“The market leaders are ‘all in’ on technology,” Parker said. “By the end of 2020, every freight forwarder that is still competitive will have a customer-facing online portal as the cost of doing business.”
Among the companies that have rolled out Kontainers’ platform are Maersk, Kuehne+Nagel, CEVA Logistics and Toll Global Logistics. Kontainers has relationships with one-quarter of the world’s top 20 forwarders. By the end of the year, Kontainers’ software is expected to handle over 1 million transactions annually.
In addition to the product for large customers, Kontainers introduced a freight-booking platform aimed at small and midsize customers. Parker said a pool of nearly 1 million freight brands could benefit from an online offering for quotes and capacity.
Maritime panelists: Freightos
Another featured panelist in Chicago will be Ruthie Amaru, chief marketplace officer of Freightos Marketplace.
Freightos provides forwarders and shippers an easier way to manage and compare rates across a variety of transportation modes. Its automated rate management platform processes pricing, schedules, and other updates from air, ocean, truck and rail providers, giving forwarders an easier way to manage multiple shipping tariffs.
Using the automated rate management platform, forwarders can provide customers with an all-in shipping cost, which can be accessed either through the forwarders’ website or through Freightos’ own marketplace. Customers can then comparison shop among forwarders or on the Freightos marketplace.
Bringing those services online means customers can get an immediate quote and confirmation when booking their freight, compared with the manual process, which could take up to three days to get a quote.
About 1,000 forwarders are using Freightos’ automated rate management. Liner operator CMA CGM also offers direct quotes for container service on the Freightos marketplace.
Freightos is also the provider of the Freightos Baltic Daily Index, which comprises both global and trade-lane-specific daily estimates for the cost to ship a 40-foot container.
Maritime panelists: Talking trade
Other speakers will address the enormous impact that trade tensions have had on ocean shipping.
As Byers pointed out, “This past year has only increased the need for companies to better understand the global supply chain, as many have been victims of the trade war. Companies now understand the unique competitive advantage they can create by benchmarking their data with the rest of the industry using SONAR.”
Global trade issues will be addressed in a conversation with Lee Klaskow, senior analyst of transportation and logistics at Bloomberg, and with Lori Ann LaRocco, a senior editor and journalist with CNBC.
LaRocco’s new book, “Trade War: Containers Don’t Lie, Navigating the Bluster,” will be published Nov. 13. It promises to “tell the true story of the trade wars through the experiences of American farmers, industry, ports and markets, in the words of those involved and impacted.”
Two of her previous books – “Dynasties of the Sea” volumes one and two, published in 2012 and 2017, respectively – put the spotlight on executives and owners on the front lines of the ocean shipping sector.
FreightWaves Live’s lead sponsor is J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. and its 360 load management app. Title sponsors are TTN Fleet Solutions, 8VC and K-Ratio. Universal sponsors are Daimler Trucks North America, Echo Logistics, Emerge, SkyBitz, LeanTech, Platform Science, Transflo, TriumphPay and Uber Freight. National sponsors are Schneider and Trimble. Regional Sponsors are DL Cartel, Freight Friend, Here, McLeod Software, NLB Services, Pilot, Flying J and WeWork.