Maritime Logistics Unplugged

Credits: Maersk

Ana Casaca, the CEO of World of Shipping Portugal, gives readers a detailed look at how shipping companies are embracing logistics in their own individual ways, reports Splash247.

Maritime logistics is emerging as a new area of study

Worldwide, universities are drawing attention to it as an independent subject to be taught and not inside other subjects, as might be the case, even though a few universities have considered it in their curricula. The reasons leading to this wake-up call could be many, but the consequences of three events that the world has witnessed since January 2020 has spurred interest. These include the covid pandemic, the 2021 Ever Given containership grounding in the Suez Canal, and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Throughout this succession of events, the term maritime logistics came to the forefront. Never before has it been given so much attention, with the different media outlets and analysts drawing attention to the secondary effects caused by each event. The words were often used and very much linked to the bottlenecks witnessed in the ports of China due to the zero-covid policy as well as the prolonged port congestion occurring across the US west coast ports. Simultaneously, it was impressive to see how bottlenecks in some parts of the world constrained the remaining worldwide logistics and supply chain activities, having a strong multiplier effect, forcing ocean carriers to redesign some of their logistics operations and employ sweeper vessels to relocate empty containers.

As the situation became critical, some ocean carriers suggested that supply chain members shifted from just-in-time to just-in-case strategies. Such a shift would foster the building of inventories to minimise the impact that the existing bottlenecks were causing on the manufacturing industry and intermediaries (i.e., wholesalers, retailers, and other specialised intermediaries besides ocean carriers) to meet a sudden market demand derived from e-commerce activities and over which they had no control. In addition, as part of the middle mile, ocean carriers needed both the first and the last miles streamlined to increase their service reliability and overall service performance.

The situation also raised several shippers’ and receivers’ complaints in the US, contributing to a legislative change. The bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 was enacted to level the playing field for American exporters and importers and give the Federal Maritime Commission tools to better control international ocean carriers and repress rising shipping fees being faced by consumers. Whether this was positive or negative is out of scope here; what is important to refer to is that events lead to changes, some good and others not so good.

Therefore, much has been written and discussed about logistics and supply chain management. The outcome of many of these writings and discussions targeted finding solutions to a myriad of problems to make logistics and supply chains more streamlined and resilient to different unexpected shocks. They highlighted how transport infrastructure and adequate transport policies are relevant to streamline the flow of goods to avoid congestion at critical nodes, some of them international gateways to international trade, and how important it was for the different economic players to adopt new logistics strategies.

With this background, maritime logistics was very much linked to one market segment, container shipping, given the nature of the cargoes being carried inside the containers and their ability to move between modes. However, such an approach limits its concept. First, the shipping industry embraces many shipping segments other than container shipping. Secondly, the current approach limits itself to the port logistics concept and port-hinterland connectivity issues.

Read the full article here.

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Source: Splash247


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